Recreational Boating Safety

This section deals with:

  • Practical measures you can take to avoid common types of boating accidents;

  • Actions you can take in an emergency to minimise further risks and ensure the safety of the boat's occupants.

Thankfully there are few deaths from boating accidents but many people are seriously injured. Damage to boats and other property is often extensive. Police and rescue organisations are also put to a great deal of trouble and risk in rescuing people and attending to false alarms.

For information about boat licences and permits, registering motorboats, owning and operating watercraft and safety ACCESS HERE.  

- Anchoring in Channels

- Boat ramps and moorings

- Correct Size PFDs for Children

- Being Safe on your Boat - Before setting out.  While underway

- Carrying Suitable Safety Equipment

SAFECOM - Water Safety - On Deck logo

Safety 'news you can use' goes online

This very popular On Deck publication has moved to a online publication. This move will allow safety messages and information to be published continuously in real time, rather than only getting information to people on a quarterly basis. It will also allow us to explore a more interactive approach with these communities, including the use of social media for people to comment and send on articles to others. 

Design-wise, the online publication has been developed with a rotating feature article and the ability to forward an article to friends - so that the latest safety and regulatory information can be shared. 

Director of Transport Safety Regulation, Brian Hemming, said there may be a period of adjustment for people who have grown used to receiving their On Deck hardcopy quarterly.

"We appreciate that the On Deck publication is a valuable resource for people out on the water and are looking to build on its marine safety tradition via this new interactive website," he said.

"We're certainly hoping that people will respond positively to this new and real-time form of information distribution.

"You can still enjoy regular sections including Murray's river matters, out at sea, scuttlebutt, and check your regs - but these will be far more interactive and up-to-date than was previously possible.

"We'll also be encouraging you all to let us know what's happening out on the water, so that we can be responsive and share any safety messages with the whole boating community.

"I'll be looking to raise the profile and spark community discussion about marine safety matters.

"We will certainly appreciate your support in making this exciting new e-publication a widely-recognised resource for the best and fastest information about marine safety and regulation in South Australia."

To access the online publication click on the ON DECK icon.

Australian Builder's Plate

The Australian Builders Plate (ABP) was introduced in South Australia on 4 February 2008 to provide safety information on new recreational boats.

The plate is designed to give potential buyers the information they need to assess whether the boat is suitable for their needs by providing information on:

  • the maximum weight and power rating of the engine;

  • how many people can be carried;

  • the maximum load that the boat can carry (including people and equipment); and, for boats up to six metres in length:

  • a buoyancy statement.

More information

Water Safety - Builder's Plate

General Enquiries Related to Boat Control

Radio Marine Weather Services

The Bureau of Meteorology advises that the weather schedule broadcasts, Marine weather information, routine forecasts and warnings is broadcast by the Bureau of Meteorology via HF radio transmitters. Warnings are broadcast on the half hour, every hour. Click on the below links to see timings and frequencies (Khz)

Before setting out, you should:

  • Check the weather forecast and stay ashore if warnings are current or the weather appears doubtful. Consult the Bureau of Meteorology for South Australian Weather.

  • Check that a responsible person knows

  • The description of your boat

  • The number of passengers

  • Where you are going

  • Your expected time of return or arrival

  • Check your boat to make sure it is seaworthy and drain plugs are tightly inserted

  • Check the motor is running properly. Do not set out until any engine trouble has been fixed. The engine might clear itself, but the chances are problems will only get worse

  • Check that all the required safety equipment is:

    • On board

    • In good condition

    • Within easy reach.

In an emergency these essential items will drastically increase your chances of survival.

  • Check that you have enough fuel for the return trip plus a margin of at least 50%. It may be calm when you set out but if you return into a head wind or sea, your fuel consumption could double.

  • Check fuel lines and connections for leaks. Wipe up any petrol spilt during fuelling and make sure there are no fumes before starting the engine.

Going Aboard

  • Load the boat within its design limitations and allow for rough conditions. Distribute the load evenly and keep it as low as possible to reduce the boat's centre of gravity.

  • Step aboard as near to the centreline of the boat as possible and hold on to something. Never jump into a boat or pause with one foot on the boat and the other ashore.

  • Do not let anyone sit on the bow, especially children. They could easily lose their balance, fall overboard and be seriously injured or killed by the propeller.

  • Avoid standing up in a small boat. If you have to change places with someone, carefully move around opposite sides of the boat so that balance is maintained.

While Underway

  • Maintain a good lookout and continually assess the relative position, speed and direction of other vessels in the vicinity.

  • Make sure you know all the navigation rules and take action in plenty of time to avoid a collision. Keep clear of larger vessels that cannot manoeuvre as quickly as you.

  • Travel at a safe speed, particularly when visibility is reduced by sun glare, fog or rain and during the hours of darkness. Remember your boat has no brakes.

  • Keep a constant watch on the weather, and if conditions start to deteriorate make sure that everyone on board is wearing a PFD (Personal Flotation Device). It is very difficult to put on a PFD in rough conditions or while treading water.

  • Don't throw your rubbish over the side - stow it and take it home.

  • Don't mix alcohol and boating.

Volunteer Marine Rescue

Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) Associations in South Australia assist search and rescue (SAR) authorities by providing a 24-hour response to marine emergencies.

There are six independently incorporated Associations plus marine units of the State Emergency Service (SES) that are strategically located throughout the State. The majority of SAR operations are conducted under the co-ordination of the South Australia Police who are the recognised Authority under the National Search and Rescue Plan. In addition to providing an on-water rescue capability, VMR Associations and the SES operate a number of limited coastal listening stations around the state that provide a listening watch over marine radio frequencies, particularly the VHF network. For more information click here.


Water Safety - Patrol Boat