Recreational vessel operators

If you participate in recreational boating in Victoria, you and the vessel(s) you operate are required to comply with the relevant marine safety laws.

  • Always dial 000 in an emergency
  • If an incident has occurred but you are not in immediate danger, report it to Victoria Police on 1800 135 729

Preparation is the key to ensuring that your voyage runs smoothly. This section contains important information provided to help keep you, your crew and others safe on the water.

Getting started

What you need in order to legally operate a vessel in Victorian waters, such as boat licences and vessel registration.

Trip preparation

What you need to do to prepare for your trip, including the safety equipment you are required to carry and how to use it; how to access and understand the marine weather forecast and local waterway rules; and tips on seasonal vessel maintenance.

Safety duties

All persons participating in the operation of a recreational or hire and drive vessel (as a master, operator and crew, or passenger), and those being towed, are responsible for their individual and collective safety, and the safety of those in the vicinity of the vessel. Understand your safety duties.

Safe operation

How to safely handle your vessel in all situations, including launching and retrieving, loading, when anchoring and when refuelling.

Information on navigation lights, the buoyage system used in Victoria and how to operate your marine radio.

Operating rules, such as speed and distance rules, alcohol and drug laws, steering and sailing rules (particularly around big ships, marine wildlife and in transit zones) and operating in conditions of heightened risk.

What to do in an emergency

What to do in the the event of a boat fire, man overboard or having to abandon your vessel.

Reporting an incident

Your legal responsibilities in terms of reporting marine incidents and accidents.

Photo of a 5 knots speed sign