State waterway rules

General State Rules apply to all waters in the State. These rules are approved by Maritime Safety Victoria under Part 5.1 of the Marine Safety Act 2010 (Vic) and preceding legislation.

Preliminary

Interpretation

  1. In this Notice:
  • 'Access lane' means an area of water specified in a Schedule which is set aside to permit access to or from the shore at speed:
    • for a vessel which is towing a water-skier
    • for launching or retrieving a vessel at a boat ramp when the ramp is located in the   area specified as an access lane.
  • 'Coastal waters' has the same meaning as in the Marine Regulations 2009.
  • 'Competition or training' means an activity:
    • undertaken as part of a competition or training organised in accordance with the rules of a Victorian sporting organisation; and
    • approved in writing by the Director, Transport Safety as competition or training.
  • 'Dive flag'means the Code Flag "A" shown in Chapter 11 and Appendix 2 of the International Code of Signals.
  • 'Enclosed waters' has the same meaning as in the Marine Regulations 2009.
  • 'Hire and drive Vessel' has the same meaning as in the Marine Act 1988.
  • 'Houseboat' means any boat, vessel or pontoon having a fixed house above the deck with accommodation which may be used by persons residing on board for an overnight period or longer.
  • 'Inland waters' has the same meaning as in the Marine Regulations 2009.
  • 'Local port manager' has the same meaning as in the Marine Act 1988.
  • 'No wash zone' means an area of water specified in a Schedule through which a vessel must only pass at a speed which creates minimal wash or no wash.
  • 'Operate' means to facilitate or control the movement or navigation of a vessel (or a thing connected to a vessel) that is not:
    • at anchor; or
    • made fast to the shore; or
    • aground; or
    • ashore.
  • 'Personal watercraft' means any recreational vessel that is of a kind that is required to be registered and that:
    • has an engine that is used for propulsion; and
    • has a fully enclosed hull; and
    • does not retain water on it if it capsizes; and
    • is designed to be operated by a person standing, sitting astride or kneeling on the vessel but not seated within the vessel.
  • 'Port management body' has the same meaning as in the Marine Act 1988.
  • 'Recreational vessel' has the same meaning as in the Marine Act 1988.
  • 'Rescue' means an operation to retrieve persons in distress, provide for their initial medical or other needs and deliver them to a place of safety and includes any on-water activities that may be preliminary or incidental to that operation.
  • 'Schedule' means a Schedule to this Notice.
  • 'Search' means an operation, normally coordinated by a rescue coordination centre, using available personnel and facilities to locate persons in distress and overdue vessels.
  • 'Speed restriction zone' means an area of water specified in a Schedule within which a master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated in excess of the speed designated in the Schedule.
  • 'Sporting organisation' includes an organisation that:
    • has control in Australia, a foreign country or internationally of one or more sports or sporting events; or
    • organises or administers one or more sports or sporting events; or
    • accredits people to take part in sporting competition; or
    • provides teams to compete in sporting competition; or
    • trains, or provides finance for, people to take part in sporting competition.
  • 'State waters' mean:
    • the territorial sea adjacent to the State; and
    • the sea on the landward side of the territorial sea adjacent to the State that is not within the limits of the State
    • waters within the limits of the State.
  • 'Search and rescue operation' includes:
    • a search;
    • a rescue; and
    • any activity designed to train personnel to undertake –
      • a search;
      • a rescue; and
      • any function incidental to a search or a rescueconducted on State waters.
  • 'Vessel' has the same meaning as in the Marine Act 1988.
  • 'Victorian sporting organisation' means a sporting organisation recognised by the Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation as the sporting organisation for a sport in Victoria.
  • 'Water-skier' means a person being towed by a vessel which has an engine that is used for propulsion whether or not the person is wearing water-skis or:
    • is being towed bare-footed; or
    • is being towed on any thing; or
    • is engaging in para-sailing or in a similar activity.
  • Works includes:
    • the construction, maintenance or decommissioning of a facility or infrastructure; and
    • the dredging of a channel and related activities; and
    • the construction or maintenance or exterior alteration or decoration of a building or other structure; and
    • the demolition or removal of a building or other structure; and
    • the erection, maintenance and removal of signs or hoardings; and
    • the removal, destruction or lopping of vegetation.

Speed Limits and Safety Distances

All State Waters

  1. A master of a vessel must not cause or allow the a vessel to be operated on any State waters at a speed exceeding 5 knots:
    1. within 50 metres of a person in the water; or
    2. within 100 metres of a vessel or buoy on which a dive flag is displayed, or a rigid replica of that dive flag; or
    3. within 50 metres of another vessel except where both vessels are either:
      1. engaged in competition or training; or
      2. within an exclusive use or special purpose area prescribed in a Schedule to this Notice which is set aside for a specific activity under Clause 13 in which the width of water prevents the keeping of that distance.

Inland Waters

  1. Unless otherwise specified in a Schedule, the master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated on any inland waters at a speed exceeding 5 knots:
    1. within 50 metres of the waters' edge; or
    2. within 50 metres of a fixed or floating structure in or on the water (including a wharf, jetty, slipway or boat launching ramp);

except in an access lane.

Coastal Waters and Enclosed Waters

  1. Unless otherwise specified in a Schedule, the master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated in coastal waters or in enclosed waters at a speed exceeding 5 knots:
    1. within 200 metres of the waters' edge except in an access lane
    2. within 50 metres of a wharf, jetty, slipway, diving platform or boat ramp except in an access lane
    3. when passing through a recognised anchorage for small craft.

Categorisation and Use of Waters

Establishment of Access Lanes

  1. An area of water specified in a Schedule as an access lane for the purposes of this clause is an access lane.

Use of Access Lanes

  1. The master of a vessel which is towing a water skier at a speed exceeding 5 knots must ensure that the vessel is operated in a manner such that it departs from and returns to the shore only through an access lane.
  2. The master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated in an access lane except for the purposes of:
    1. dropping off or picking up a water-skier; or
    2. launching or retrieving the vessel at a boat launching ramp when the ramp is located within an access lane.
  3. The master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated in an access lane unless the purpose for which he or she entered the access lane necessitates unrestricted speed departure from and approach to the shore.
  4. The master of a vessel which is being operated in an access lane:
    1. must not:
      1. if dropping off or picking up a water skier, cause or allow the vessel to be operated at a speed greater than that reasonably required to drop off or pick up the water skier; or
      2. if operating the vessel for the purposes of seeking access to or from a boat launching ramp within the access lane, cause or allow the vessel to be operated at a speed greater than that reasonably required to maintain control of the vessel; and
    2. must remove or beach the vessel and secure all equipment as soon as practicable after accomplishing the purpose for which he or she entered the access lane; and
    3. must ensure that the vessel is operated in a manner so as to keep:
      1. as far to the right as practicable when entering or leaving the access lane; or
      2. as far to the left as possible when entering or leaving the access lane where a Schedule prescribes that vessels must be operated in a clockwise direction in relation to the approximate centre of the waterway; and
    4. must ensure that the vessel is operated in a manner so as to give right of way:
      1. to any vessel proceeding past the access lane; or
      2. to any vessel about to enter or which is already in the access lane for the purpose of dropping off a water skier; or
      3. to a vessel which is about to enter or is already in the access lane for the purpose of gaining access to a boat launching ramp located in the access lane.

Speed Restriction Zones

  1. The master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated at a speed exceeding the speed specified in a Schedule for an area of water specified in the Schedule.
  2. Despite sub-clause (1), a speed restriction specified in a Schedule for an area of water may be expressed so as not to apply on particular days or at particular times specified in the Schedule.

Areas where Water-skiers are Prohibited

  1. The master of a vessel towing a water-skier must not cause or allow the vessel to enter an area of water specified in a Schedule as an area where water skiers are prohibited.
  2. A water-skier must not enter an area of water specified in a Schedule as an area where water skiers are prohibited.

Areas where Vessels are Prohibited

  1. The master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated in an area of water specified in a Schedule as being prohibited to vessels.
  2. Despite sub-clause (1), a prohibition on vessels specified in a Schedule may be expressed so as not to apply on particular days, or at particular times, or to particular vessels, or to particular vessels travelling at designated speeds.

Prohibition on Vessels with Engines

  1. The master of a vessel which has an engine that is used for propulsion must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated in an area of water specified in a Schedule as being prohibited to vessels which have an engine that is used for propulsion.
  2. Despite sub-clause (1), a prohibition on vessels with engines used for propulsion specified in a Schedule may be expressed to apply to vessels with engines of a particular type or capacity.

No Wash Zones

  1. The master of a vessel must ensure that the vessel is operated in a manner which creates minimal wash or no wash in an area of water specified in a Schedule as a no wash zone.

Prohibition of Specific Activities

  1. A person must not engage in an activity in an area of water specified in a Schedule when such activity is prohibited in that area of water specified in that Schedule.
  2. The master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated in an area of water specified in a Schedule when such operation is prohibited in that area of water specified in that Schedule.

Exclusive Use and Special Purpose Areas

  1. Where an activity in an area of water specified in a Schedule is subject to a condition or conditions governing the use of that area of water as prescribed in that Schedule, a person must not engage in that activity in that area of water in contravention of the prescribed condition or conditions of use.
  2. Where operation of a vessel in an area of water specified in a Schedule is subject to a condition or conditions governing the use of that area of water as prescribed in that Schedule, the master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated in that area of water in contravention of the prescribed condition or conditions of use.

Direction of Travel on Inland Waters

  1. The master of a vessel with an engine used for propulsion on inland waters must ensure that the vessel is operated:
    1. in an anti-clockwise direction in relation to the approximate centre of the waterway; or
    2. in a clockwise direction where a Schedule prescribes that such a vessel must be operated in that direction in relation to the approximate centre of the waterway,

except when the vessel is operating in a speed restriction zone or an access lane or is being operated at a speed of less than five (5) knots.

Giving Way

  1. When departing from the shore at any location the master of a vessel with an engine used for propulsion must ensure that the vessel is operated in a manner such that it gives way to all other vessels.

Operation of vessels

  1. The master of a vessel on any State waters must not cause or allow the vessel to impede the progress of a tug or other vessel assisting the movement, berthing or unberthing of a vessel.

Bathers

Areas where Bathers are Prohibited

  1. A person must not bathe:
    1. within 50 metres of any boat launching ramp that is being used or is about to be used for the launching or recovery of any vessel; or
    2. within an access lane.

Sailboards

Operation of Sailboards, Kiteboards, etc

  1. A person operating a sailboard, kiteboard or similar vessel on any State waters must not approach within 200 metres of any berth used for the purposes of commercial shipping.
  2. *** Revoked ***

Towing

Towing a Person

  1. The master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated on any State waters:
    1. when towing a person unless, in addition to the operator, there is in the vessel a person aged 12 years old or more who is in a position to observe and communicate to the operator of the vessel the progress of the person being towed;
    2. when towing more than 3 persons;
    3. when towing a person between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise.

Noise

Excessive Noise

  1. *** Revoked ***

Noise

  1. The master of a vessel with an engine used for propulsion must not cause or allow the vessel to be operated unless the vessel has a silencing device:
    1. securely fixed to its engine so that all the exhaust gases from the engine pass through the silencing device in such a manner as to prevent unreasonable noise; and
    2. which does not have attached to it a cut out or a device capable of producing an open exhaust.

Divers

Diving Operations

  1. The master of any recreational vessel or hire and drive vessel engaged in diving operations on any State waters must ensure that there is exhibited on that vessel where it can clearly be seen a dive flag or a rigid replica of that dive flag, and:
    1. in the case of a vessel of 10 metres or more in length, the height of such dive flag or replica must not be less than 1 metre; and
    2. in the case of a vessel of less than 10 metres in length, the minimum size of such dive flag or replica must be 750 millimetres by 600 millimetres.

Divers' Personal Flags

  1. Subject to sub-clause (2) any person engaged in diving in any State waters must use a buoy attached to himself or herself by a length of rope, such buoy having attached to it a dive flag or a rigid replica of that flag, the dimensions of such dive flag or replica being not less than 300 millimetres by 200 millimetres.
  2. Sub-clause (1) does not apply to a person who:
    1. is operating from a recreational vessel or hire and drive vessel which complies with the requirements of clause 22 (Diving Operations); or
    2. is within an area in which the operation of vessels is prohibited or in which vessels are not permitted to exceed a speed of 5 knots; or
    3. is engaged in diving solely for recreation and is not equipped with any breathing apparatus designed to facilitate diving.

Mooring, Anchoring or Berthing of Vessels

Vessel not to be moored etc. to navigation marker or buoy

  1. The master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be secured to or in any other way made fast to any navigation marker, beacon, buoy, pole or post fixed in or on any State waters.
  2. The master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be moored, berthed, or anchored in any area of water specified in a Schedule as being prohibited or regulated for that purpose.

Vessels not to be Anchored in Channels

  1. The master of a vessel must not cause or allow the vessel to be anchored in a channel that is marked with beacons or buoys.

Boats, Persons or Equipment Obstructing Channels

  1. Where a channel or waterway has been obstructed by a vessel or its equipment, occupants or persons, the owner or master of that vessel and equipment must remove the obstruction from the channel or waterway without undue delay.

General

Search and rescue and enforcement vessels exempted

  1. The provisions of this Notice do not apply to:
    1. the master of a search and rescue vessel engaged in search and rescue operations;
    2. the master of a vessel being operated for the purpose of the enforcement of the Marine Act 1988 and any Regulations and notices made under the Act; or
    3. the master of a vessel engaged in works and authorised by a waterway manager, local port manager or port management body.