NSW Boat Safety Check List

Being safe on the waterways is a responsibility we all share and we at Pacific Boating have developed a comprehensive training program to ensure our members are aware of all safety equipment and rules of the waterways, the safety of their crew and to maximise enjoyment of their recreational boating.

The master/skipper of a vessel is responsible for all people on board and should ensure the boat has the required level of safety gear and all people know where the safety gear is stored and how to use it, if required. The master/skipper of the vessel should not hesitate to instruct his passengers to put on their lifejacket if the situation demands them to do so. 

Care needs to be especially taken when … 

  1. the weather changes for the worse such as increasing winds, thunderstorms or rising swells. The skipper should continuously monitor the weather conditions published by the Bureau of Meteorology to ensure the conditions remain safe for continued boating
  2. boating  with the elderly, non-swimmers and people with medical conditions 
  3. the vessel has broken down  
  4. there is a significant likelihood that the vessel may be capsized or swamped by waves, or the occupants of the vessel may fall overboard or be forced to enter the water 
  5. other similar circumstances.

In addition to the rules there are requirements regarding the safety equipment that is required for boating in NSW and here we have included a summary.

Suitable Safety Equipment

The minimum safety equipment you must carry depends on the type of vessel you’re in and whether you’re on open or enclosed waters.

Open waters are navigable waters that are not enclosed by land or not within a river, bay, harbour or port. They include coastal and ocean waters. Open waters can be dangerous. You can encounter rough, choppy seas and large waves. Coastal bars can be challenging to cross. You’re far more exposed to changes in the weather than on enclosed waters. The risk of your vessel getting swamped or capsizing is much higher. You need to be experienced and know how to handle your vessel in these different conditions.

Make sure you’re prepared for the conditions and hazards of open waters.

Enclosed waters are navigable waters enclosed by land or a port. They include inland and coastal rivers and lakes, creeks and lagoons, enclosed coastal bays, ports and harbours, estuaries, dams and all alpine waters. Enclosed waters include:

  • inland and coastal rivers and lakes – for example, the Hawkesbury River, Tweed River, Lake Macquarie and Wallis Lake
  • creeks and lagoons – for example, Pipers Creek and Glenbrook Lagoon
  • enclosed coastal bays, ports and harbours – for example, Sydney Harbour, Pittwater, Port Macquarie and Jervis Bay
  • estuaries – for example, Brisbane Water and Terranora Broadwater
  • dams – for example, Chaffey Dam and Wyangala Dam
  • all alpine waters.

Enclosed waters can be dangerous, even when they appear calm. Low water temperatures, shallow areas, strong currents , underwater snags and remote locations increase risk.

The type of vessel ranges from small personal watercraft (PWC) through sailboards, paddlecraft, rowboats and small inflatable boats, dragon boats, tenders, powerboats and sailing boats(small and large) and the requirements differ for each.

For the purpose of this article we will primarily focus on sports cruisers up to 60’ in enclosed waters

For further information  Being Safe on NSW Waterways

What Safety Equipment is required on a Boat is NSW



Lifejackets For Each Person On Board 1
Anchor & Chain Line Except for sailing boats up to 6m long 1
Bailer or Bucket with Lanyard Except for boats with permanently enclosed self draining hulls 1
Bilge Pump

Electrical or Manual

Larger vessels may need additional pumps 1
Chart For area of operation (printed or digital) 1
Fire Extinguisher

For boats with electric start, electric engines, battery, gas installation or fuel stoves.

Larger vessels may require additional 2
Paddles or Oars and Rowlocks For boats up to 6m long unless they have a second means of propulsion 1
Sound Signal Air Horn, Whistle or Bell 1
Safety Label Except for sailing boats 1
Waterproof Torch Floating and Working 1

While not essential the following is recommended when boating on NSW enclosed waterways.



First Aid Kit  Appropriate to the size of the boat 1
Tool Kit Basic items include a spark plug spanner and spark plugs (for petrol engines), small spanner, pliers, phillips head and standard screwdrivers, spare fuel line, electrical wiring, insulation tape and a can of water repellent) 1
Kill switch Lanyard For small power boats 1
2 Means of Communication Eg marine radio and mobile phone with waterproof cover 1

More about Lifejackets

Lifejackets are the most important safety item on any recreational vessel. Wearing a lifejacket can save your life. It is a requirement that when you are alone on a small open boat that you wear a lifejacket. All people on board must wear a lifejacket when crossing a coastal bar. If you are a non swimmer it is recommended you wear one at all times.

Lifejackets are also known as personal flotation devices or PFDs.

Vessels must carry enough approved lifejackets for everyone on board at all times – even when they do not have to be worn. If children are going to be on board it is critical that the correct size of jacket is there to accomodate them.

Lifejackets must be stored for quick and easy access on board. If they’re not easy to see, the storage area must have a sign saying ‘Lifejackets’ (red lettering on a white background). 

There are rules for when you must wear a lifejacket and what type.

These rules depend on:

  • your age – there are special rules for children aged under 12 years
  • the level of risk
  • the type of vessel you’re in
  • where you are 
  • what time of day you’re on the water.

There are different types of lifejackets – for example, Level 50, Level 50S and Level 100. 

Check here for approved types


Maintaining Your Safety Equipment

All safety equipment must be:

  • in good condition and meet appropriate standards or specifications
  • maintained or serviced according to the manufacturer’s specifications
  • replaced before the manufacturer’s expiry date (if applicable)
  • easy to find and access.
  • Remember to check all batteries are working

Safety equipment is generally durable and long lasting. Keep small, storable items like flares, V sheet, EPIRB, torch and other bits and pieces in an accessible, sealed, waterproof container. Make sure items like the radio and fire extinguisher are protected from saltwater.

 Let Pacific Boating Look After It…


There is a lot to remember and time involved in maintaining and keeping up to date with the latest regulations and of course more costs involved. While it is critical for every skipper to be aware of all safety rules and equipment requirements,  a Pacific Boating membership helps to reduce some of the hassle and cost. They work closely with NSW Maritime and are aware of all safety precautions and that the latest regulations are being adhered to. With a focus on member training the importance of safety protocols are communicated through to all Members. Pacific Boating is Sydney’s finest. It operates from locations on Sydney Harbour and Pittwater, offers a fleet of luxury sports cruisers, walk on walk off service, no on going maintenance or berthing costs plus comprehensive training….and your boat is clean and ready to go when you are. From as little as $2095 per month you could be cruising in style and minimize the costs and the hassle and maximise the boating enjoyment.

Not sure whether you want to buy your own…look at a membership as a ‘try before you buy option’ and regardless of the type of vessel or the waterway you choose to visit stay safe out there and enjoy.

Click to read more to see How It Works..it may be the best solution for you!


Happy Boating !



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