Boating safety advice for New Year’s Eve

30 December 2013

Boating safety advice for New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour

Roads and Maritime Services is gearing up for one its biggest challenges of the year, with thousands of people expected to enjoy New Year’s Eve celebrations from boats on Sydney Harbour.

Roads and Maritime Senior Special Aquatic Events Officer Drew Jones is urging boaties to put safety first, with more than 3000 vessels expected on the harbour and around 1.5 million people gathering to see the fireworks from vantage points around the shoreline.

"New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest times on Sydney Harbour with boats of all sizes keen to share in the celebrations.

"Skippers should make sure all their safety gear is on board, navigation lights are working and they avoid exclusion zones.

“Roads and Maritime will coordinate the on water traffic management, including installing an exclusion zone of yellow buoys which will operate from 8pm on Tuesday 31 December to 12.45am on New Year’s Day, extending from Cockatoo Island in the west to Clark Island in the east.

"No unauthorised vessels will be allowed in the area during this time and access under the Sydney Harbour Bridge will be prohibited. The speed limit for recreational vessels in and around the exclusion zone will be six knots.

"Lighting checks and random breath testing will occur throughout New Year's Eve. Boat skippers should stay under the 0.05 blood alcohol limit or face heavy fines, loss of licence, or even jail.

“When the festivities are complete, skippers will need to remember to be patient and to display the appropriate navigation lights as hundreds of other boats will be trying to move around the harbour at the same time.

“The large number of spectator craft can create choppy conditions and it is important people in small boats observe the lifejacket laws. That means people in boats smaller than 4.8 metres must wear a lifejacket when alone, offshore and at night, as must anyone under the age of 12 aboard any boat.

“It’s also essential for all skippers to observe important boating safety guidelines such as keeping a proper lookout and maintaining a safe speed.

"Unless it’s an emergency, boaters should never set off flares on the water – it’s illegal and dangerous," Mr Jones said.

Detailed advice to skippers planning a trip out on the water this New Year’s Eve can be found under Marine Notices at and for boating safety info go to

CONTACT: Roads and Maritime Services Media Unit: 8588 5999

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