If your boat is less than 4.8 metres in length, you must wear a life jacket whenever you are travelling alone during the day and at all times during the night regardless of whether or not you are travelling alone. Children must wear a life jacket at all times.
Technically, you only need a boat licence if you drive your boat faster than 10 knots. Ideally, all residents should gain a boat licence to ensure they are familiar with the regulations and safety requirements.
According to the NSW Roads & Maritime Boating Handbook you must have on board the following equipment prior to operating a vessel inshore in NSW.
Optional extras – towels, tarpaulin or plastic bags for rain protection of shopping etc., sun hat, length of rope, bilge pump and first aid kit.
Make sure every person on board knows where to find and how to use essential safety equipment.
To ensure that your boat does not sink, remember that an open boat needs to be bailed regularly during heavy rain. Automatic bilge pumps are not expensive and a must to take the worry out of keeping boats above the water during bad weather.
Navigation lights which meet the legal criteria are required to be on when under way between the hours of sunset and sunrise. These include a red forward-shining light on the left / port side, a green forward-shining light on the right/starboard side and a white all-round “running” light.
Help is never far away. Someone is sure to give you a lift. During the day, wave your arms at passing boats to let them know you need help. At night, flash your navigation lights.
The section of the river from Silverwater to Calabash Point is a 4 knot zone (4 knots is effectively a “fast walking pace”). The section from Calabash Bay to the end of Neverfail Bay is a No Wash Zone. In this zone, there is no speed restriction but boats must not create any wash. The 4 knot speed limit also applies to boats travelling between moorings.
Follow the lights of the homes on shore or the channel markers and shoreline. Always have regulation lights on your boat and switch on your navigation lights in the fog. Most modern mobile phones include GPS and you can always use that in a bind, but a portable or fixed GPS to navigate up and down the river during fog is best. Travel slowly and with care, as GPS unit will not show you where other boats are!