Boating in Western Australia, especially around Perth, is an integral part of our lifestyle. With the introduction of new safety regulations, it’s crucial for all boaters to understand and comply with these changes to ensure safety on our beautiful waters. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the new regulations, ensuring that you’re well-informed and prepared for your next boating adventure.
Understanding these changes is essential for safety and enjoyment on the water. Along with adhering to safety regulations, it’s equally important to ensure your vessel is adequately insured. Coast Insurance, with more than 25 years of experience in marine insurance, offers comprehensive coverage options for various types of vessels, providing peace of mind and protection for your boating lifestyle.
Safety equipment changes now apply
The Department of Transport in Western Australia has recently rolled out new safety equipment requirements, impacting a wide range of vessels. This update includes registered recreational vessels, personal watercraft (PWC), non-registrable yachts/sailing vessels, and tenders. These regulations are already in effect and bring significant changes to the safety standards for boating in Western Australia. Understanding these new requirements is crucial for the safety of everyone on board.
Areas for vessel use
Navigating Western Australia’s diverse waterways requires an understanding of the distinct areas designated as ‘protected’ and ‘unprotected’ waters. These classifications carry specific safety equipment requirements under the new regulations.
Protected waters encompass rivers, lakes, estuaries, harbours, and waters within 400 metres from the shore in unprotected waters. However, these do not include the Cambridge Gulf and Lake Argyle. Knowing the classification of the waters you’re navigating is essential for compliance with the new regulations.
Unprotected waters are defined as areas beyond 400 metres from the shore. The equipment requirements and safety measures differ from those in protected waters, emphasising the need for heightened preparedness in these areas.
Safety requirements for vessels
In Western Australia, ensuring the safety of all boaters is a primary concern, particularly around the Perth region where boating is a popular activity. The new boating regulations introduce comprehensive safety requirements for vessels of various sizes and types.
These requirements are designed to enhance the safety of boaters in both protected and unprotected waters. Whether you’re a casual boater or a seasoned sailor, understanding and adhering to these requirements is crucial for your safety and that of others on the water. Below is an outline of the key safety requirements for vessels under the new regulations:
Vessels smaller than 4.8 metres
For vessels that are smaller than 4.8 metres, there are specific rules tailored to address the unique challenges and safety concerns associated with operating these smaller crafts.
In protected waters
For vessels operating in protected waters, carrying a lifejacket (level 100 or higher) for each person on board is mandatory.
In unprotected waters
When operating in unprotected waters, the following rules apply:
- Mandatory wearing of a lifejacket (level 100 or higher) for everyone on board.
- Carrying a GPS-enabled EPIRB or wearing a GPS-enabled PLB. A transition period until 1 September 2028 is provided for upgrading to a GPS-enabled EPIRB.
- Carrying at least 2 handheld red flares and 2 handheld orange flares, with an option to use parachute flares until 1 September 2026.
- Carrying an electronic visual distress signal (EVDS) instead of flares if a GPS-enabled EPIRB or PLB is on board.
- Mandatory carrying of a marine radio when operating beyond 4 nautical miles from shore, with a transition away from 27-MHz radios by 1 September 2028.
Vessels larger than 4.8 metres
The requirements for vessels larger than 4.8 metres are similar, with an additional rule:
- In unprotected waters, children aged one to 12 years must wear a lifejacket (level 100 or higher).
Personal water craft (PWC)
PWCs have specific safety requirements:
- A lifejacket (minimum level 50S) must be worn at all times in all waters.
- Similar equipment requirements as other vessels apply when operating in unprotected waters.
Vessel length and distance from shore
The new regulations do not limit how far a vessel can travel from the shore based on its length. Skippers must make safety decisions based on weather conditions, vessel capability, and their skills.
Recommended but not required equipment
While not legally required, carrying a fire extinguisher, anchor, bilge pump, or bailer is advisable. Skippers should assess their vessel and circumstances to determine the necessity of these items.
Marine radio and distress beacon standards
All emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) and personal locator beacons (PLBs) must now be GPS-enabled. Additionally, VHF or HF marine radios are required when travelling more than 4 nautical miles from shore, and a Marine Radio Operator’s Certificate of Proficiency is necessary to operate these radios.
Equipment transition period
A transition period until 1 September 2028 is provided for upgrading from 27-MHz radios to VHF or HF radios, and from non-GPS EPIRBs to GPS-enabled EPIRBs.
Flares and EVDS requirements
In unprotected waters, carrying at least 2 handheld red flares and 2 handheld orange flares is mandatory. EVDS can be used as an alternative if a GPS-enabled EPIRB or PLB is on board.
Stage Two changes
As Western Australia continues to update its boating regulations to enhance safety on the water, Stage Two changes are set to introduce new requirements, particularly for non-registrable vessels.
These changes are vital for operators of smaller crafts such as paddle craft, kiteboards, sailboards, and other non-registrable vessels under 4.8 metres. Understanding these upcoming changes is essential for all boaters, especially those in Perth and surrounding areas, to ensure continued compliance and safety.
Non-registerable vessels smaller than 4.8 metres
In the upcoming Stage Two changes, non-registrable vessels smaller than 4.8 metres will have specific safety equipment requirements:
In protected waters
When operating in rivers, lakes, estuaries, harbours, and within 400 metres from the shore in unprotected waters, there will be no requirements to carry or wear safety equipment for these small vessels. This exemption recognises the lower risk associated with operating in more controlled, sheltered environments.
In unprotected waters
Operating beyond 400 metres from the shore in unprotected waters brings different challenges and risks, necessitating the following safety equipment:
- A lifejacket (minimum level 50S) must be worn by everyone on board a vessel smaller than 4.8 metres. This ensures a basic level of safety for all occupants, particularly in more unpredictable open water conditions.
- The vessel must carry a GPS-enabled emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), or one person on board must wear a GPS-enabled personal locator beacon (PLB). These devices are crucial for quick location and rescue in case of an emergency.
- At least 2 handheld red flares and 2 handheld orange flares must be carried on board. These visual distress signals are essential for attracting attention in case of distress.
- An option to carry an electronic visual distress signal (EVDS) instead of flares is provided, given that a GPS-enabled EPIRB is carried or a GPS-enabled PLB is worn by one person on board. This offers flexibility in choosing the most suitable distress signal devices.
4.8 metres and larger non-registrable vessels
For non-registrable vessels that are 4.8 metres and larger, the Stage Two changes stipulate:
In protected waters
Similar to smaller vessels, there will be no requirements to carry or wear safety equipment when operating in protected waters.
In unprotected waters
Once these vessels move into unprotected waters, the following rules apply:
- A lifejacket (level 50S or higher) must be carried for everyone on board. This ensures that all occupants have access to a lifejacket in case of emergency.
- Children aged one to 12 years on board must wear a lifejacket (level 100 or higher), providing additional safety for younger, more vulnerable occupants.
- Carrying a GPS-enabled EPIRB or having one person on board wear a GPS-enabled PLB is mandatory. This ensures quick and accurate location in emergencies.
- Similar to smaller vessels, at least 2 handheld red flares and 2 handheld orange flares are required, along with the option to carry an EVDS instead, provided a GPS-enabled EPIRB or PLB is on board.
These Stage Two changes reflect a commitment to boating safety in Western Australia, balancing the need for practical safety measures with the realities of different types of watercraft.
For the latest maritime updates and detailed information on these changes, it’s important to regularly check the official Government of Western Australia Department of Transport website. Staying informed will ensure that you remain compliant and safe while enjoying Western Australia’s beautiful waterways.
Navigating the waters of Western Australia requires not only compliance with the latest safety regulations but also a robust insurance plan to safeguard against unforeseen circumstances. Coast Insurance, a leader in marine insurance, provides tailored solutions to protect your vessel and your way of life.
As you adapt to the new boating regulations, securing your investment with Coast Insurance is a wise step to ensure you’re fully prepared for your nautical adventures. Our team is on hand to guide you through the insurance options, tailoring a plan that meets your specific boating needs. This way, you can enjoy your time on the water, knowing you’re backed by comprehensive coverage and expert support. Reach out to us for personalised advice and to safeguard your boating experiences.