Keep safe on the water this holiday season

13 December 2014

School holidays are under way and with only a fortnight to Christmas, Roads and Maritime Services urges boaters to keep safe this summer holiday season.

Roads and Maritime Director Maritime Angus Mitchell said it was crucial at this busy time of year for all people heading out on the water to be safe and responsible.

“Tragically, there have been eight boating fatalities on NSW waters since September. There have also been 25 reported boating incidents resulting in 35 people sustaining serious injuries since July,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Boating can be great fun but it is an activity which requires planning, skill and judgement.

“Roads and Maritime boating safety officers and boating education officers will be out in force during the holidays across NSW waterways to monitor boating activity and provide help and advice where needed.

“Lifejackets are the most important piece of safety equipment on any recreational vessel. There needs to be a lifejacket for every passenger on board and it is crucial the skipper and passengers understand when these need to be worn under NSW law.

“It’s one of the basics, but all boat operators need to ensure they are travelling on the right side of the channel to reduce the risk of crashing into other boats or objects.

Mr Mitchell said it was also important to take extra care during the festive season due to the increased number of aquatic events.

“During special aquatic events there are often marked exclusion zones in place for the safe staging of the event.

“Skippers planning a boating trip should take the time to visit the Roads and Maritime website and check the latest marine notices to find out where these zones may apply.

“During major events such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart start on Sydney Harbour and the many New Year’s Eve fireworks displays across the State, waterways are busy with small and large boats.

“Boaters should allow time for delays at boat ramps and longer on water travel times due to reduced speed limits in the special event areas.”

He said each skipper should maintain a safe speed, keep a proper lookout, avoid taking risks and obey navigation restrictions. Extra care should be taken when towing people.

“When within 30 metres of another vessel, limit your speed to 10 knots or less. The maximum speed in an event area is six knots, which is equivalent to a slow jog.”

Mr Mitchell said those going boating at night should ensure they have the appropriate navigation lights as well as spare globes and torches.

“Importantly, boaters need to take care in the sun and limit intake of alcohol as both of these can lead to disorientation when out on the water.

“By all means enjoy yourselves but please remember even if you are at anchor, there should be someone on board who is able to drive the boat in the event the weather changes or there is a reason to move the boat.

“Alcohol is involved in at least one third of all boating fatalities and studies have shown boat passengers are just as likely as operators to be involved in incidents such as capsizing the vessel or falling overboard as a result of drinking alcohol.

“The maximum permissible concentration of alcohol (PCA) for recreational vessel operators aged 18 and older is 0.05, for those under 18 it is zero and commercial vessel operators must be below 0.02 PCA.”

Visit for full details of NSW lifejacket and safety equipment rules.

Visit to view maps and obtain navigation advice for all of the big aquatic events planned for Sydney Harbour up to and including Australia Day.

For general boating safety advice visit

CONTACT: Roads and Maritime Services Media Unit: 8588 5999

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