Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned boater or first timer, getting back to the water after a winter hiatus can be exciting.
As you return to the water, our ‘Back to Basics’ program is here to guide you through what you need to know in a simple way to make sure you’re ready to get back on the water safely.
We’ll also let you know about the new maritime regulations and how these apply to you.
What’s on deck?
All water users have been there – months without getting out on the water can make some essentials slip your mind. And with new maritime regulations rolling in, even the most seasoned boater might feel a bit out of their depth.
So, we’re going back to basics to help you navigate the new boating season with confidence. Here, you can find some resources that will help you in your voyage back onto the water:
Anchoring your maritime adventures in safety starts with your vessel. Ensuring your boat is in top-notch condition is paramount to not just enjoying the waters, but returning to shore safely every time.
If it’s been a while since your last voyage, then you might need to freshen up on some of the essential pieces of equipment for a safe journey.
There is lots of information to know about equipment – even just life jackets. For instance, did you know that you must maintain and service inflatable lifejackets; and that people who have a medical condition or disability may be better off wearing a life jacket that inflates automatically if they enter the water?
To learn more about maintaining your safety equipment, including life jackets, visit here.
Deep dive into the latest maritime regulations and what they mean for you.
Lifejackets must be worn in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions as lifejackets offer little safety benefits if not worn in accordance with manufacturers requirements and specifications. This means they must be zipped and clipped and worn securely to meet the wear requirements of the Marine Safety Regulations.
The following changes now apply for lifejacket use in Victoria:
- All children aged less than 12 years old must wear a lifejacket of a prescribed type when in an open area of a boat that is underway. This includes paddleboards and kayaks and is shift up from less than 10 years old.
- A sole adult boating with children less than 12yo is considered to be boating alone, and must comply with the heightened risk provisions that apply to boating alone. Mandatory lifejacket wear applies in times of heightened risk on vessels up to 12m in length,
- Australian standards are to be the only recognized standard for lifejackets in Victoria. This change will apply from July 1 2028.
- The new regulations replace references to ‘personal flotation device’ with the common term ‘lifejacket’.
- PFD Type 1,2 & 3 is replaced by Level 100, 50 and 50sAS1512 will no longer be accepted from 1 July 2028
Note: Lifejackets will continue to be required to be worn on vessels up to and including 4.8 metres in length and in circumstances of heightened risk on vessels up to and including 12m in length.
Powered vessels are required to carry on board flares in both enclosed and coastal waters.
The regulations introduce an alternative for vessels operating on enclosed waters to carry one of the following in place of pyrotechnic distress flares:
- a Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), or
- Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), or
- VHF marine radio with a minimum 25-watt output
27MHz radios no longer meet the definition of marine radios in relation to the requirement to carry a marine radio on coastal waters.
Marine radios must be installed VHF radios. Handheld radios are not accepted on coastal waters or as alternatives to flares on enclosed waters. See the regulations for full specifications.
VHF radios have a longer range and are more reliable in deteriorating conditions and are also supported by an extensive VHF Coastal delivered by Marine Radio Victoria, which provides 24/7 distress monitoring while also providing weather forecasts, safety alerts and radio checks.
There is a new infringement for installing navigation lights incorrectly, including having navigation lights installed incorrectly during daylight hours. This condition requires that navigation lights are placed so that their angles of visibility are consistent with the provisions of the Collision Regulations.
Marine licences can now be issued and renewed for a period of one year or five years. Licences were previously only permitted to be issued or renewed for a five-year period.
This change will be available once a system change is implemented with VicRoads
Penalties apply for fuelling vessels while passengers are on board – and also for restarting vessels with passengers on board after fuelling
The existing Marine Safety Regulations prohibited fuelling at a wharf, jetty or pier when passengers were on board, and also restarting vessels with passengers on board after fuelling at a wharf, jetty or pier.
The new 2023 regulations add all other places that are not a wharf, jetty or pier. It is now prohibited to fuel a vessel with passengers on board at any place and prohibited to restart a vessel with passengers on board at any place.
Unless, at places other than a wharf, jetty and pier, it is not practicable or possible to disembark passengers before fuelling or restarting the vessel.
This is focussed on beach or riverbank refuelling and includes a provision to allow refuelling at sea, but highlights a safety issue that has led to explosions on restarting.