Heightened risk

The following situations and activities are considered to be of heightened risk:

  • Operating alone
  • Operating at night (one hour after sunset until one hour before sunrise)
  • Crossing an ocean bar or Port Phillip Heads
  • Boating in restricted visibility
  • When the vessel is disabled
  • The vessel is operating in an area where the Bureau of Meteorology has issued a weather warning of the following kind:
    • a gale warning
    • a storm force wind warning
    • a hurricane force wind warning
    • a severe thunderstorm warning
    • a severe weather warning.

If you are boating in any of these situations, it is critical that you know how to handle your vessel and know what safety equipment you need, particularly what lifejacket you need to wear. Use the lifejacket selector on our Wear A Lifejacket website.

Crossing ocean bars safely

Crossing a bar is one of the most dangerous boating activities. It is always considered to be a time of heightened risk and a job for a practiced and experienced vessel operator.

Key things to remember

  1. All bars have areas of broken water containing air – these areas can severely reduce the stability and handling of a vessel.
  2. Night crossings are more hazardous.
  3. Vessels attempting to cross a bar at, or near, low water are more likely to experience adverse conditions.
  4. Liquids and loose objects 'sloshing' from side to side may reduce the stability of the vessel, for example eskies, fish, bins and water on deck.
  5. Weather against tide is the worst time to cross a bar. Always check the weather conditions and tide times before you head out.

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