Minimum safety equipment
The minimum safety equipment you must carry depends on the type of vessel you're in and whether you're on open waters 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. For more information, see About 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. For more information, see About enclosed waters.
Maintaining and storing 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.
Powerboats and sailing boats
On powerboats and sailing boats of any size (except tenders and off-the-beach sailing boats) you must carry:
|Equipment you must carry||Enclosed waters (including alpine waters)||Open waters|
For each person on board – also see When to wear a lifejacket
|Anchor and chain/line
Except for sailing boats up to 6m long.
|Bailer or bucket with lanyard
Except for sailing boats with permanently enclosed, self-draining hulls.
|Bilge pump (electric or manual)
For vessels with covered bilge or closed underfloor compartments (other than airtight void spaces). Must be able to drain each compartment.
Larger vessels may need additional bilge pumps.
For area of operation (printed or digital).
Fluid filled magnetic.
|-||2 orange smoke
2 red hand
|Drinking water||-||2 litres per person|
|EPIRB – 406 MHz
Must be registered with AMSA and not expired.
|-||1 (if 2nm or more from the shore)|
For boats with electric start, electric engines, battery, gas installation or fuel stoves.
Larger boats may need additional fire extinguishers.
|Marine radio||-||1 (if 2nm or more from the shore)|
|Paddles or oars and rowlocks
For boats up to 6m long, unless they have a second means of propulsion.
Except for sailing boats without engines.
Air horn, whistle or bell.
A minimum of 1.8m x 1.2m.
Floating and working.
Recommended equipment for powerboats and sailing boats
|Recommended equipment||Enclosed waters (including alpine waters)||Open waters|
|Kill switch lanyard
For small powerboats.
|2 means of communication
For example, a marine radio and mobile phone in a waterproof cover.
Personal watercraft (PWC)
PWC must have a PWC behaviour label. The label must be displayed where it can be seen from the steering position. This label shows the rules you must follow when driving a PWC, such as keeping a safe distance from people and other vessels. You get one when you register your PWC at a service centre.
You must wear a lifejacket on a PWC at all times.
For your safety, especially in remote areas and on open waters, it's recommended that you carry:
- kill switch lanyard (strongly recommended)
- torch (waterproof and working)
- first-aid kit
- fire extinguisher
- 2 means of communication – for example, a marine radio and a mobile phone in a waterproof cover
- wetsuit for each person
- helmet for each person.
When tow-in surfing
If you're tow-in surfing without an observer on a PWC, you must carry:
- rescue sled
- spare kill switch lanyard – wrapped around the handlebar
- two-way communication device – such as a marine radio or mobile phone in a waterproof cover
- dive fins
- safety knife
- quick-release floating tow rope (minimum 7m long)
- bow tow-line (minimum 7m long).
Sailboards, kiteboards and off-the-beach sailing boats
You must carry lifejackets for each person on board – also see When to wear a lifejacket.
If you're going out alone to remote areas or on open waters, it's strongly recommended that you carry a minimum of 1 means of communication, such as a mobile phone in a waterproof cover.
Canoes and kayaks and surf skis
You must carry:
- lifejackets for each person on board – see When to wear a lifejacket
- a waterproof torch if you go out at night (between sunset and sunrise) to use to help prevent a collision.
For your safety, it's recommended that you:
- wear highly visible clothing
- attach a high-visibility flag to your vessel
- carry a handheld marine radio or mobile phone in a waterproof cover in case of an emergency.
Paddling activities on open waters – such as sea kayaking – demand a high level of self-sufficiency and skill. See the Safety Guidelines provided by Paddle Australia.
On open waters, canoes and kayaks with an engine must carry the same safety equipment as powerboats and sailing boats.
You must carry lifejackets for each person onboard, unless you are involved in council or surf club lifesaving, training or competition activites. See When to wear a lifejacket.
It's strongly recommended that people on stand-up paddleboards wear a lifejacket.
Rowing boats, rowing dinghies, rowing skiffs and small inflatable boats
You must carry lifejackets for each person on board – see When to wear a lifejacket.
You must carry the same safety equipment as powerboats and sailing boats.
You do not have to carry safety equipment if your vessel is all of the following:
- up to 3m long
- not carrying an engine or fuel
- built to float if swamped or capsized
- within 200m of the nearest shore.
If the boat is being used as a tender, you must carry the safety equipment as powerboats and sailing boats.
Rowing (racing) shells
You do not have to carry safety equipment or lifejackets on enclosed waters.
Dragon boats and outrigger canoes
Dragon boats and outrigger canoes have special rules for the safety equipment they must carry, how it's stored and safety drills. See Marine Safety Regulation 2016 Schedule 8, Part 2 (clause 8 for outrigger canoes and clause 9 for dragon boats).
Vessels used for competition, training or surf rescue
Surf rescue boats (except PWC) do not have to carry safety equipment, and people on board do not have to wear lifejackets, when they are being used by a local council or recognised rescue organisation for:
- surf rescue
- training or competition.
Sailing vessels used for organised sailing training do not have to carry safety equipment – as long as a powered vessel capable of rescue is close by. Everyone must wear a lifejacket.
A tender is any type of boat up to 7.5m long used to transport people or goods between the shore and a parent vessel or another vessel. A tender vessel must not travel further than 1nm from its parent vessel.
Tenders up to 3m long
A tender up to 3m long must carry:
- paddle or oars
- bucket, bailer or bilge pump
- waterproof torch at night (between sunset and sunrise).
A tender must carry the same equipment as powerboats and sailing boats if it goes:
- more than 200m from the shore on enclosed waters
- anywhere on open waters.
Tenders over 3m long
A tender over 3m long must carry the same safety equipment as powerboats and sailing boats.