There’s a whole host of precautions to be mindful of whenever and wherever you are out on the water. Some are specific to luxury boating in Sydney.

Everyone should check their safety equipment, comply with marine legalities and ensure their boat is seaworthy. But what are your responsibilities should you spot a Sydney ferry? And, are you across all the speed restrictions that apply in Sydney Harbour?

It’s time to swot up on safe boating in Sydney, so read on for all the tips you need from your favourite Sydney boat broker.

1.   Understanding What Makes Luxury Boating in Sydney Different

It’s the vast variety of vessels that makes Sydney Harbour stand out from the crowd. You’ll be in the company of tall ships, high-speed ferries, seaplanes, kayaks and fishing trawlers, to name but a few.

The sheer concentration of vessels on the waterway makes the danger of a collision far higher. You should always be ready to take evasive action, even if you think you have right-of-way.

If you come within 30 metres of another vessel, you should reduce your speed to 6 knots. You should also familiarise yourself with the Sydney Harbour Bridge Transit Zone. Here, you mustn’t travel at speeds greater than 15 knots. You can’t anchor or drift here either, other than in an emergency.

2.   Understanding Your Boat

Familiarity is key. Spend time getting to know your boat thoroughly. Pay special attention to its controls and get a feel for the boat’s power. If you’ve just made a purchase, invest time studying all the manuals first.

No matter how desperate you are to get out on the water, talk through your concerns and questions with boat experts such as the team at MW Marine. Also, triple-check that you have sufficient fuel to get to where you want to go and to come back safely, allowing for contingencies.

3.   Audit Your Safety Equipment

Check that you have all the required safety equipment and ensure that you know how to use it. Carry high-quality life jackets for everyone on board. Torches, flares and signalling devices are a few of your other essentials. A V sheet made from heavy-duty PVC fluorescent orange fabric is a requirement.

In New South Wales, if you’re on open waters and more than 2 nautical miles from the shore, you must carry an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). This distress beacon alerts Search and Rescue (SAR) teams to your precise location. MW Marine has you covered and can put together a safety package for you.

4.   Watch Out for Seaplanes

These operate out of Rose Bay. Pilots cannot stop seaplane propellers quickly, which makes them very dangerous. You must never travel toward the front of a moving seaplane, and you should always keep a distance of 60 metres from the front or 30 metres from the rear of a moving seaplane.

If a seaplane is taxiing on the water, you should consider it a power-driven vessel that should give way accordingly. Never make last-minute alterations to your direction of travel if a seaplane is landing or taking off.

5.   Practice Your Skippering Skills

If you’re heading offshore, you are more likely to have to navigate choppier waters. This is the moment you need well-honed skippering skills. So, before heading out on your big adventure, spend time practising when it’s calm.

Understand the principles of passage planning and have a thorough grasp of meteorological forecasts. Other skills to sharpen up on are docking and dead-reckoning navigation. MW Marine will be happy to help you review your skills and learn new ones so you can skipper like a pro.

6.   Be Mindful of Ferries

High-speed ferries, such as Supercats and Rivercats, operate in the Sydney area. When they travel at speed, they display a yellow round flashing light. At these times, they can create a stern wave and some wash. It’s very important to be mindful that they can be travelling far faster than might first be apparent.

In certain areas, such as Putney to Mortlake on the Parramatta River, vehicular ferries operate and use cables to pull themselves across. This means they do not have the ability to manoeuvre very easily and can only travel in a straight line. You should slow down to 4 knots if one of these ferries is in motion.

7.   Inform Someone About Your Plans

It’s exciting to head offshore, but it requires a degree of responsibility. You should always leave a detailed plan with someone on land. You should consider making regular contact with them to make it easier to raise the alarm if you run into difficulties.

8.   Understanding Rivers and Channels

Boats stick to the starboard side in rivers and channels for extra safety. It helps reduce the risk of a collision by making your actions clearer to other boats who may be travelling from the opposite direction.

In narrow parts of rivers or channels, safe boating in Sydney means staying as far to the starboard side as possible, taking steps to never block the channel. You should exercise extra care on bends whilst always travelling at a safe speed. Remember that large vessels can take hundreds of metres to stop.

9.   Consideration of Legal Requirements

Although heading offshore for the first time is a great experience, it is vital to understand the applicable laws you must stick to at sea. Ensure you understand collision regulations, for example, as well as signalling requirements, before you head out.

Luxury boating in Sydney includes checking your insurance before you embark on any trip. MW Marine, your friendly Sydney boat broker, has created a great package called Club Marine Insurance, which offers total peace of mind for you and your passengers.

Safe Boating in Sydney With MW Marine

MW Marine has built an enviable reputation for luxury boating in Sydney. Whether you’re buying new or second-hand from us, you can be sure that we take safe boating in Sydney extremely seriously.

If you’re considering buying a boat from MW Marine or have any questions about safety on the water, then contact the Sydney boat broker you can trust.