Hiring a vessel

Hiring a vessel for recreational use on NSW waterways? Here's what you need to know to follow the rules, stay safe and enjoy your day out.

Types of hire vessel

You can hire a recreational vessel to use on NSW waterways – for example, a powerboat, sailing boat, canoe, personal watercraft (PWC) or houseboat.

Vessels offered for hire must meet commercial safety standards – see using a vessel commercially.

When you need a licence

You must have a boat licence to drive a powerboat or a sailing boat using its engine at a speed of 10 knots or more.

To hire and drive a PWC you must have a PWC licence and be aged 16 or over. There are some licensing exemptions – see Personal watercraft hire and drive tours.

Hire companies also set their own requirements – for example, minimum competency, age and medical requirements for drivers and passengers.

Safety instructions and rules you must follow

When you hire a vessel, the hire company must give you safety instructions before you go out on the water. Depending on the size and type of vessel, this can include information about:

  • safety equipment and how to use it
  • lifejacket rules
  • operating controls
  • navigation equipment
  • what to do in an emergency
  • charts and safe navigation
  • pre-departure checks and planning
  • passenger and load capacity.

Hire companies set their own fees and conditions for hiring a vessel – for example, the maximum number of passengers, where you can go and how long you can stay on the water.

You must also follow all the rules for using NSW waterways. This includes rules for:

To understand all the rules, download the Boating Handbook or see the Safety and rules section of this website.

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