VMR Gladstone Base: 07 4972 3333 Duty Controller: 0417 681 921

One of the most common questions Marine Rescue Squadrons across Queensland, and probably Australia, encounter is, “what equipment am I actually required to carry on my boat?” In many cases the unsettling subtext of this question is, “what is the minimum safety equipment I can get away with?” The implications of that aside, because we get asked this question so much, we are going to relay Marine Safety Queensland’s (MSQ) official guidance on this topic. Because this is a complex topic, we are going to break the answer down and today we are just going to look at boats that do not require registration. If you are wondering if your boat requires registration, the simple answer is that if the motor produces more than 3kW (4hp), then yes it does, and you will have to wait until the next article because the information below does not apply to you.

If your boat does not require registration, Marine Safety Queensland requires you to carry:

  • An EPIRB or Personal Location Beacon (PLB) if you go beyond partially smooth waters. If you are going to use a PLB instead of an EPIRB there are additional specific requirements relating to the selection and use of a PLB that you should make yourself aware of. This information can be obtained from MSQ.
  • A signalling device (torch, glow stick, lantern etc.)

While not required, the following equipment is recommended:

  • An anchor with appropriate line
  • Relevant charts if you go into or beyond partially smooth waters (or handheld electronic navigation device)
  • A compass if you go into or beyond partially smooth waters (or handheld electronic navigation device)
  • Drinking water
  • Two red handheld and two orange smoke flares if you go into or beyond partially smooth waters
  • Firefighting equipment
  • A life jacket for each person onboard
  • Oars or paddles (if your boat is less than 6m in length)
  • Pumping or bailing equipment
  • A V sheet if you go into or beyond partially smooth waters

A small number of boat owners look at this list and start asking some other questions that all Marine Rescue Squadrons are quite familiar with. Questions like:

  • I’ve got a phone, could that be my navigation device?
  • If I’ve got a bucket that I use for fishing that can be used for bailing, can I say that is my fire fighting equipment too, so I don’t need anything else?
  • We have an Esky and some drinks, how much water do I really need to carry?
  • We can all swim and we’re not going far, why do we need life jackets?

The answer to all these questions is the same, your safety is ultimately your own responsibility. However, it is also sensible to be aware that while MSQ describes some equipment as recommended, they clarify the meaning of recommended by noting that recommended equipment is the equipment suggested to be carried to meet the general and enforceable safety obligation applied to all boat users by the Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act 1994.

If you have any questions about what you are required to carry on boats that don’t have to be registered, or anything else related to your boat, you can always contact Volunteer Marine Rescue Gladstone