A Complete Guide To Boat Safety

April 19, 2022


Victoria has a beautiful array of coastal and inland waters that allow for boat owners to use their boats on rivers, lakes and in the ocean! What are all the safety equipment regulations and requirements for different waterways? The rules vary in each state & territory, this is important for all boat owners to know, which is why we have created this blog to highlight all the things you need in Victoria. As a starting point, safety regulations revolve around the style and size of your vessel and are broken down into 4 tiers of safety regulations. You start with inland waters (rivers, lakes and dams), then move to enclosed waterways (bays and estuaries) and the top tier are coastal waterways which are broken down into inshore (<2nm from shore) and offshore (>2nm from coast).

One of the most asked question is what level of life jackets/ PFDs do you need for different waterways. There are 3 levels of lifejackets, the first is Type 1 which are level 100 and over. Type 1 life jackets provide a high level of buoyancy and keeps the individual in a safe floating position. Usually Type 1 life jackets are made using high visibility colours and can also have reflective patterns. The Type 2 lifejackets are level 50 buoyancy vests, slightly less buoyant than the type 1 but able to still keep you afloat. The final Type 3 jackets are level 50S. Level 50S lifejackets are similar to Type 2 jackets but are available in a wide range of styles, colours and fittings. Type 3 jackets are most commonly used for inland water sports.

Check out the table below to see all the lifejacket requirements.

Marine safety equipment can vary from fire extinguishers to bail buckets, pair of oars to EPIRBs, flares to torches and so much more. There are a wide range of difference safety equipment regulations depending on your vessel. Keep in mind that a powerboat has different regulations to a PWC or a human powered vessel like a Kayak. There are also regulations for a stand-up paddle board that is commonly overlooked. Please ensure you read the below tables and see what safety equipment you require for your powerboat vessel. Davey Marine and Compleat Angler Pakenham have a wide range of safety equipment that will cover you for everything you need!

You can also head to our Resource Centre or use the links below to download the free Victorian Recreational Boating Safety Handbook & crucial extracts from the handbook or visit Maritime Safety Victoria to learn more:

Ensure you also have the right anchor that is suited for the conditions you are heading too as having the right anchor is very important. Read the Guide To Finding The Right Anchor to see what suits you. CLICK HERE to shop our anchors.

Tips On Boat Safety

Boat safety isn’t just about what equipment you have in your boat. Being prepared before you head out onto the water is where it all starts! Some quick tips for boating safety are:

  • Properly maintain your vessel, engine and equipment
  • Ensure you have enough fuel and reserve fuel
  • Fully charge your batteries
  • Inform someone of your whereabouts

Another important tip is checking the weather before you head out onto the water to avoid being stuck in catastrophic situations and in weather storms. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) releases marine and weather warnings, these are something you should check every time you are about to head out. You can find them here. There are a huge range od weather conditions you need to be careful of especially with Victorian weather that can change suddenly. Keep an eye out on the common weather issues such as wind levels, wave heights, tides and currents, but also keep in mind and check for large weather issues such as cold fronts, cyclones, thunderstorms and sea fog.

Distress signals are also a very important part of marine safety in Victoria. Read the table above to see if your vessel needs flares or smoke signals. If you are travelling offshore flares and smoke signals are a requirement. Davey Marine offer Parachute Rocket Flares and In-Shore Hand Held Flares. TIP: Flares and signals have a use by date, ensure to check your safety signals regularly and keep up to date signals to ensure you are prepared in an emergency. Flares can become dangerous and unpredictable as they age. Their life span is usually three years and you must ensure they are replaced when the expiry date is reached.

Keeping a V-Sheet in your vessel is also important as a distress signal in less serious situations. The last distress signal to mention is an EPIRB. The most common EPIRB we provide is the GME 406MHz EPIRB which makes locating the beacon faster and more accurate than non-GPS EPIRBs due to the top mounted Quad helix antenna. In an emergency, being found quickly could save the lives of you and your crew.

Our last tip is to ensure your safety gear is always easy to access and you know where everything is located. You don’t want to be searching for your safety gear during and emergency, every second counts in emergency situations. A good option is to label where your safety gear is held and ensure it is not obstructed at any time. If you would like all the safety gear in one place, we recommend our safety grab bag kits.

Enjoy your next trip and stay alert and safe when on the water!

Note: This blog was correct on the date of publishing. Rules and regulations can change, please ensure to stay up to date with any changes. You are responsible for ensuring your boat is up to regulations and Davey Marine cannot be held liable.