Staying safe is paramount to your boating enjoyment. Use these tips to have a fantastic day out on the water.

Who can you turn to for help when your boat has broken down?

The Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association and the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol are based in Sydney. Both maintain shore-based radio stations to monitor marine radio channels. They are recognised as official search and rescue organisations that support the authorities during emergencies. It is strongly recommended that you log in and off with a volunteer rescue body when venturing out to sea.

Check your safety equipment every time before heading out onto the water, and do not overload your vessel.

Below are a few important items to have on board

Marine radios

Compulsory for all vessels operating more than 2 nautical miles out to sea. All emergency words are repeated three times.


A mayday call denotes an emergency involving imminent danger to a vessel. If you hear a mayday call,
do not transmit, but continue to monitor the radio. If a shore station such as the local Coast Guard or
Coastal Patrol fail to respond to the call you should attempt to relay the message and render any assistance.


Pan Pan is an urgency message that indicates a vessel is in trouble, but not in immediate danger.


Securite messages generally prefix navigational safety messages such as
weather reports or navigational hazard updates.


Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, is compulsory for all vessels 8m or more in length operating 2 nautical miles from shore. Once activated, it transmits a distress signal for at least 48 hours that can be detected by satellites and overflying aircraft.

Flares and V-sheets

The V sheet is a fluorescent orange-red coloured sheet 1.8 x 1.2 metres, with a large black V printed in the middle.


Personal flotation devices, are the most important piece of safety equipment on any vessel and must be carried on board, one for every occupant.

Fire extinguisher

Should be serviced regularly.

Oars and paddles

Must be carried on most vessels under 8 metres.

Compass and charts

Required if operating offshore.

Fresh drinking water

Two litres per person.

Waterproof torch

A valuable safety device for signalling and working on the engine. (don't forget spare bulbs and batteries)

Bilge pump + First Aid Kit + Tool kit + Lifeboat + Life raft

Life buoys

Or rescue quoit is mandatory for all vessels 8 metres or over on enclosed or open waters.


Metal or plastic, with a 2-metre rope attached. Safety item for both bailing water out,
fighting fires and in an emergency can be used as a sea anchor.

Look after all safety equipment

Ensure it is accessible in a dry, well ventilated area and let everyone on board know where safety gear is stored.

Do not drink alcohol and drive

And remember the three C's :- Care, Courtesy and Common sense.

Tell people where you are going

If you intend to do fishing in New South Wales waters, both freshwater and saltwater,
you must carry a NSW fishing licence. This covers spear fishing, hand gathering and bait collection.

For more information contact: