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Boating safety

Safety equipment

Carrying the right safety equipment and knowing how to use it is essential.

Safety equipment requirements depend on the size of the ship, whether it requires registration and the areas of operation.

Legal requirements

Life jackets

All boats must have life jackets or personal floatation devices for all passengers and crew.

You must wear a life jacket:

  • when crossing a coastal bar in an open boat less than 4.8m in length or
  • if you are under the age of 12 in a moving, open boat less than 4.8m in length.

Read more about life jacket types and requirements.

Weather

Always check the weather forecast before and during any trip on the water.

Maritime Safety Queensland's weather service provides weather information from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) for the cost of a local phone call.

Current weather forecasts

Visit BOM for weather updates. Alternatively call:
All of Queensland—13 00 36 04 26
Marine warnings—13 00 36 04 27
South-east Queensland—13 00 36 04 28

Weather information is also regularly broadcast on VHF radio Channel 67 by local volunteer marine organisations.

Marine warnings

Maritime Safety Queensland circulates safety information detailing:

  • navigation warnings and hazards
  • changes to the uniform buoy age system
  • navigation depths.

Check current marine warnings by location online or call 13 00 36 04 27.

Trip preparation

Complete a trip preparation checklist to minimise the risks of injury on your next trip.

Alcohol rules

Drink-driving laws also apply to boats. The blood alcohol limit depends on the boat's use.

For recreational ships, the limit is 0.05.

For commercial ships, the limit is zero.

Note that:

  • These limits apply unless the boat is securely moored in a marina, to a jetty or wharf or on a swing mooring
  • If you are convicted of a drink-driving offence on the road, your marine licence can also be suspended or cancelled.

Gas safety

If you have gas appliances on-board, make sure you read about the safe use of gas appliances and cylinders.

You should have a fire extinguisher close-by and:

  • check appliances frequently for signs of leaks and wear
  • have any repairs or alterations done by a licensed gas installer
  • always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • never use a portable or unflued appliance in an unventilated space.

If you smell a gas odour, stay calm and:

  • ventilate the area
  • do not use lighters or matches
  • do not turn electrical appliances or lights on or off
  • turn your gas appliances off; if the gas is still leaking, call your gas distributor.

Check the weather before you head out

Queensland's weather systems are changeable and unpredictable. Good weather is critical for a safe and comfortable trip. Check the forecast when planning a trip, before you leave and while you are on the water:

  • From the Bureau of Meteorology
  • Call Maritime Safety Queensland's weather service for the cost of a local phone call:
    • all of Queensland – 13 00 36 04 26
    • marine warnings – 13 00 36 04 27
    • south-east Queensland – 13 00 36 04 28.

Cyclone contingency plans

Boat users need to be prepared to protect themselves and their boats from the damage cyclones can cause. To help minimise risks, Maritime Queensland have created cyclone contingency plans for areas in central and northern Queensland.

Last updated
20 March, 2015

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