Tips for attending aquatic events

Stay informed about safe boating during aquatic events and how to keep in communication with authorities in the event of illness or emergency.

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It can be tricky dropping an anchor in a crowd of spectator vessels. With care, you can avoid a tangled mess at the end of the event. Follow these steps to make sure you anchor appropriately:

  • Know the depth of water before you anchor
  • Ensure there’s adequate chain on the anchor (generally one to two times the length of the boat)
  • Ensure you have an appropriate anchor for the size of the craft
  • Keep your distance – multiply the length of your boat by three and that’s the distance to keep from other vessels anchored nearby.

Watch the weather – as wind and waves can cause your anchor to drag.


It’s important to have the right communication tools so you can stay informed while afloat. In the event of illness or emergency, a marine radio will give you a direct line of communication with authorities, should you need to move your vessel to take someone ashore.

  • 27MHz channel 88 and VHF channels 13 and 17 broadcast general safety messages, including weather forecasts
  • In the event of an emergency, boaters can communicate with authorities on radio VHF 16 or by calling 000
  • A maritime information line operates during the day (8.30am – 4.30pm) during major aquatic events on Sydney Harbour. Call 13 12 36 for information
  • Follow the directions of all control vessels.

Safety equipment

Skippers should make sure everyone on board has an appropriate lifejacket. Children and poor swimmers should wear a lifejacket at all times.

Be bright at night

Ensure you have appropriate navigation lights and spare torches, particularly if you intend to watch night-time events.

Safe navigation

During an event, the waterways can be filled with small and large vessels. In the interest of safety, each skipper should maintain a safe speed, keep a proper lookout, avoid taking risks and obey navigation restrictions. Remember:

  • When within 30 metres of another vessel, limit your speed to 6 knots or less. The maximum speed in an event area is 6 knots, the equivalent to a fast jog
  • Keep to the starboard (right-hand) side of channels
  • Keep 60 metres away from ships/naval installations.
  • Stay on enclosed waters, unless you and your crew are experienced, you have the right safety equipment, and your vessel is seaworthy.

Sun and fun afloat

It can be a long day afloat and both skippers and passengers can suffer from fatigue. Be wary of sunburn, ensure you have plenty of fresh drinking water and keep below the 0.05 blood alcohol limit. Random breath testing can be conducted on skippers of boats underway.

Protect the marine environment

With or without playing host to an aquatic event, NSW waterways are spectacular. Let’s keep them that way. It’s illegal to pollute any waterways in NSW with litter, oily bilge, galley water and sewage. Collect all your rubbish on board and dispose of it properly ashore – this includes cigarette butts. Stow it, don’t throw it.

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