Everyone on board the vessel must know what safety equipment is carried, where it is stored and how it works to ensure a safe journey on the water.

Below is a list of all the required safety equipment for recreational boating.


Fire protection

Having fire protection on a vessel can greatly reduce the risk of injury, death and property damage in the event of a blaze.

Below is a list of fire protection equipment needed on your vessel.


Portable fire extinguishers are required on all powered recreational vessels equipped with an electric start motor, gas installation, fuel stove or when any fuel is carried. They must be of a dry chemical type which complies with the relevant Australian Standards.

Vessel size Number of fire extinguishers required
Less than 8m One
8m to 12m Two
Greater than 12m Three

 

Flammable or combustible liquids capacity Minimum capacity of one of the fire extinguishers
Less than 115 litres 0.9 kg
115 to 350 litres 2.0kg
351 to 695 litres 4.5kg
More than 695 litres 9.0kg


A fire blanket – complying with Australian / New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 3504 – must be positioned in a visible location near the kitchen on vessels where cooking facilities are in an enclosed space.


A bucket with lanyard long enough to safely lower the bucket over the side of the vessel to retrieve water to extinguish small fires must be carried on all powered recreational vessels.


Flares

Recreational vessels are required to carry two hand-held red distress flares and two hand-held orange smoke signal flares when operating on coastal and enclosed waters.

New regulations have introduced an option for vessels operating on enclosed waters to carry a distress beacons in place of pyrotechnic distress flares given their effectiveness. However, boaters can still carry flares for their own sense of safety.

 

These can be seen for up to 4km (10km by aircraft) and should be used in daylight to pinpoint your position.

They must comply with Australian Standard AS 2092: ‘Pyrotechnic marine distress flares and signals for pleasure craft’.

 

These have a visibility range of 10km and are designed for use at night but can also be seen during the day.

They must comply with Australian Standard AS 2092: ‘Pyrotechnic marine distress flares and signals for pleasure craft’.


These are designed to fire a single red star to a height of approximately 300m. The star burns while falling for at least 40 seconds and can be seen from the greatest distance due to its intensity and elevation from sea level.

When operating more than two nautical miles offshore in coastal waters, a mechanically or sailed-powered vessel must carry one red star parachute rocket flare.

New regulations have introduced an option 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 

Flares must be within the serviceable life of three years, with expiry dates stamped on the side of each flare.

Keep flares away from fuel or combustibles and store in an accessible dry place.

Below is a list of Police Stations in Victoria that accept expired flares.

  • Ballarat ​
  • Chelsea​
  • Dandenong​
  • Forest Hill​
  • Frankston​
  • Geelong​
  • Morwell
  • Sale​
  • Seymour​
  • Wangaratta​
  • Warrnambool​
  • Williamstown​
  • Wodonga​
  • Wonthaggi

Marine radio

27Mhz no longer falls within the definition of a Marine Radio in Victoria to meet the requirement to carry a Marine Radio when operating more than 2nm from the coast in coastal waters.

Marine Radios must be ACMA approved VHF radios – this provides robust 24/7monitoring, weather forecasts, safety alerts and radio checks in Victoria through the govt funded Marine Radio Victoria.

Marine Radio Victoria: Monitors VHF Ch 16 & 67 for distress calls 24/7 on enclosed and coastal waters up to 20 nautical miles.

Charleville Radio: Monitors HF emergency frequencies out to 200 nautical miles.

VHF Radios: Have a longer range and are more reliable in deteriorating conditions.

HF Emergency Frequencies: Monitored for longer-range communications.

Marine Radio Victoria VHF Operations: Phone: 02 6151 6688.

HF Operations: Phone: 02 6279 5774.


Anchors


Anchors help keep you safely positioned head-on to heavy conditions and can also allow boats to retain position, which is why they are required vessels operating on coastal and enclosed waters.

Danforth Anchor: A lightweight and versatile anchor with flukes that dig into the seabed, ideal for sandy and muddy bottoms.

Plough Anchor: Also known as a Plow Anchor, it has a plow-like design to penetrate various seabed types, offering reliable holding in different conditions.

Reef Anchor: Specifically designed for rocky or heavily structured seabeds, featuring a hinged design to prevent snagging and easy retrieval.

Sand Anchor: Primarily used on sandy bottoms, this anchor has wide flukes to provide sufficient holding power in loose sediment.

Grapnel Anchor: A small, folding anchor with multiple flukes equipped with sharp points, commonly used for anchoring in rocky or debris-filled areas where a traditional anchor might get stuck.

Mushroom Anchor: Characterised by its round, weighted shape resembling a mushroom, this anchor is suitable for muddy or silty bottoms as it uses its weight to create resistance and hold in the sediment.

Claw Anchor (Bruce Anchor): Designed with a claw-like shape, it offers good holding power in various seabed conditions and is known for setting quickly. It’s often used on boats and smaller vessels.

Navy Anchor (Stockless Anchor): A design used by many navies, this anchor features a flat triangular shape with a shank at the base and is used for large vessels, as it’s easy to stow and handle.

Delta Anchor: Resembling a combination of the Danforth and Bruce anchor, the Delta anchor offers strong holding in different types of bottoms, making it a versatile choice for boaters.

CQR Anchor (Plow Anchor): With a hinged shank and curved flukes, the CQR anchor provides reliable holding in a variety of seabed conditions and can reset itself if the boat shifts.

A length of chain between the anchor and line – approximately equal to the length of the vessel – is recommended to keep the shank of the anchor parallel to the sea floor.

When choosing a line for anchoring, avoid floating lines like polypropylene, as they hinder the anchor’s ability to dig in and can be easily cut.

Instead, opt for nylon or silver ropes, which are strong, stretchy, abrasion-resistant and do not float in water.


Compass


A magnetic compass is the most important piece of direction-finding equipment a master can have, particularly in bad visibility or when electrical power runs low on GPS and battery-operated devices.

Android or iPhone devices  should not be used as as a compass, as an electronic Chart Plotter does not match the need to carry a magnetic compass.

Under the Marine Safety Act most classes of recreational vessels must be fitted with a compass, when operating on coastal waters more than two nautical miles from the coast.

Magnetic compasses should be kept away from large metal objects – such as engines or anchors – to avoid inaccurate measurements


Distress beacons

EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon): An EPIRB is a distress beacon designed for maritime use that, when activated, transmits a distress signal with the vessel’s location to satellites, helping rescue teams locate and assist the vessel in emergency situations such as sinking, capsizing, or being adrift.

PLB (Personal Locator Beacon): A PLB is a portable distress beacon that can be carried by individuals on board a vessel. When activated, it sends a distress signal with the person’s location to search and rescue authorities, aiding in their timely rescue from life-threatening situations while at sea.

Once you’ve purchased your beacon, you must register it with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). Registration is free and in some cases it is mandatory by law.

All vessels heading more than two nautical miles from the coast must carry an approved 406 MHz EPIRB.

Recommended to carry a GPS-enabled EPIRB for improved accuracy.

Mandatory to register the beacon with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

Registration is free and valid for two years.

Distress beacons must be disabled before disposal.

Check the beacon manufacturer’s instructions for disablement.

Contact a local waste management facility for proper disposal options.

Alternatively, inquire at a local battery store if they can disconnect and dispose of beacons (small fee may apply).


Lifejackets


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.

 

Children aged less than 12 years old are required to wear a lifejacket at all times when in an open areas of a vessel that is underway.

Special note should be taken with the type of lifejackets children are wearing. Children must wear a Level 100 Lifejacket on enclosed water, which includes Port Phillip Bay, Westernport, Gippsland Lakes and Mallacoota.

Lifejackets with crotch straps are crucial – especially for children – as they prevent the lifejacket from slipping off and ensure it stays securely in place, offering reliable buoyancy and protection in water activities.

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.

Solo adults are consider to be boating alone and must comply with the heightened risk provisions which apply on powered boats up to 12m in length.

Australian standard AS4758 will be the only accepted standard from July 2028 for lifejackets in Victoria.

The new regulations replace references to ‘personal flotation device’ with the common term ‘lifejacket’.