29 December 2017

UPDATE: 1 July 2020 Exemption for low-powered kayaks and canoes now permanent

Victorian paddlers who want to fit a small electric motor to their kayaks or canoes will not be required to register their craft or hold a marine licence, as part of a trial exemption in 2018.

The trial aims to reduce red tape for low-powered vessels travelling up to 5 knots, while continuing to ensure safety. It will run between 1 January and 31 December 2018, and is for kayaks and canoes with electric motors of up to 40 pounds thrust (or 1 horsepower or 750 watts).

“If the trial period shows that the safety of paddlers is not compromised in any way, this exemption is likely to become permanent,” explained Peter Corcoran, Director, Maritime Safety Victoria.

“This will also enable an easier process for people taking their paddle craft interstate.”

The trial is in response to a recommendation from the Red Tape Commissioner to bring Victorian requirements closer to New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.

The benefits of motor use are that kayakers and other paddlers can conserve energy and have some assistance in getting home after their trip.

However, Mr Corcoran urges paddlers not to relax their attention to safety.

“Maritime Safety Victoria reminds paddlers that the addition of a motor presents different risks while operating their craft, including:

  • incorrectly fitting a motor that results in the hull no longer being watertight
  • travelling beyond competence and capability levels
  • overestimating the capacity of the kayak to handle conditions further offshore that may change without warning.

“On all Victorian waters, regulations with which paddlers must comply include:

  • wear a lifejacket
  • carry a bailer or bilge pump
  • carry a waterproof buoyant torch
  • have means of calling for help such as a mobile phone
  • and have an alternative means of propulsion, such as a spare paddle.”

Safety equipment requirements, and guidance on how to fit a motor is available at: transportsafety.vic.gov.au/msv/paddling

Maritime Safety Victoria invites feedback on the trial at: info@transportsafety.vic.gov.au

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