Safety

Recreational Boating Safety Handbook

The Victorian Recreational Boating Safety handbook contains guidance and safety information for recreational boaters. The complete handbook is available to view and/or download from the Transport Safety Victoria website. You can obtain a free copy of the handbook from Gippsland Ports’ Bairnsdale Office or at any VicRoads office.
We have provided answers below to some of the more frequently asked questions to assist waterway users, and enable you to enjoy a safe experience on and around the waterways of Gippsland.

Where can I obtain a boating licence?

Vicroads is the licensing agency for boat licences in Victoria. All powered recreation vessels (including personal water crafts) in Victoria require the operator to hold a current Marine Licence. There are exceptions made for persons operating “Hire and Drive” vessels that are limited to a maximum speed of 10 knots. Information on obtaining your marine licence can be found at the Vicroads website by following this link.

Are the rivers classed as “inland waters” or “enclosed waters”?

Waters are classified into four categories – Coastal Offshore, Coast Inshore, Enclosed and Inland. Rivers, apart from the lower reaches of the Snowy and Brodribb Rivers are classified as “inland waters”.

Coastal Offshore Waters refer to all waters further than 2 nautical miles (nm) from the coast.
Coastal Inshore Waters refer to all coastal waters within 2 nm along the Victorian coastline.

  • Enclosed Waters refer to bays, inlets, estuaries and waterways that open into the coastal inshore waters.
  • Inland waters refer to all other waterways further inland than the enclosed waters, which includes most rivers and streams.
  • For a full list, please refer to Maritime Safety Victoria’s Victorian Recreational Boating Safety handbook.

Do we need a marine radio and what type do we get?

A marine radio is required on all vessels when venturing into Coastal Offshore waters, with the exception of personal watercraft and kayaks/canoes. Refer to Maritime Safety Victoria’s Victorian Recreational Boating Safety handbook.

Do we have to wear life jackets (PFD’s)? If so, what type?

Under the new regulations, you may be required to wear a specified type of PFD when in an open area of a recreational vessel when the vessel is under way. Particular care should be taken to understand the concept of ‘heightened risk’ as outlined in the Boating Safety Handbook. During times of heightened risk the requirements to wear PFDs are more stringent. Refer to Maritime Safety Victoria’s Victorian Recreational Boating Safety handbook.

Do we need flares, if so what type?

Many recreational vessels are required to carry 2 hand held red flares and two hand held orange smoke flares of an approved type when operating on coastal and enclosed waters. Red star parachute distress rockets are required by many vessels when venturing greater than 2 nm from the shore. Refer to Maritime Safety Victoria’s Victorian Recreational Boating Safety handbook.

Do we need EPIRBs? Where do I buy them?

All recreational vessels venturing more than 2 nm from the coast are required to carry an approved current and registered Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). It is also recommended that vessels venturing into inland coastal waters carry an EPIRB. Refer to Maritime Safety Victoria’sVictorian Recreational Boating Safety handbook.

How should unwanted/expired flares and EPIRB’S be disposed of?

In Victoria, many Police Stations will accept expired flares for disposal (refer list below as at February 2015). Participating police stations can be found at this link.

Expired EPIRB’s can be taken to your nearest Battery World outlet who will arrange disposal for a small fee, or you can deactivate and dispose of the beacon yourself. Please ensure you refer to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority for further information on disposing of beacons.

Do the rules and regulations apply to me if I have come from interstate?

While you are operating in Victoria waters, you must adhere to Victorian requirements. The exception is that holders of interstate vessel operating licences are automatically recognised in Victoria. Refer to Maritime Safety Victoria’s Victorian Recreational Boating Safety handbook.

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