24 February 2021

In a recent incident, two adults and a child found themselves clinging to a sinking personal watercraft (PWC) off Beaumaris.

Fortunately, Victorian Fisheries Authority officers who had been patrolling the Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary heard faint cries for help, and managed to spot the struggling trio with binoculars before launching rescue.

The jet ski operator later said they had been feeling panicked and hopeless, until the officers “appeared like angels from heaven”.

We urge all boaters, paddlers and jet skiers to carry a GPS-enabled distress beacon. They are your best bet for a quick rescue in an emergency.

You should also carry your mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.

How do distress beacons work?

  1. Distress beacon is activated.
  2. Signal is received by satellite.
  3. Rescue coordination centre is notified.
  4. Search and rescue operations commence.


Jet skiers, kayakers and solo boaters should consider a personal locator beacon (PLB) that you may be able to affix to a lifejacket. This is very useful if you become separated from your craft.

Anyone heading more than two nautical miles offshore must carry an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB).

Learn more: Carry a distress beacon

Already have a distress beacon? Make sure it’s registered and your details are up to date on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website.