sa.gov.au

Carrying suitable safety equipment

Every boat must carry safety equipment suitable for its size and the waters where it is used. On this page the 'coast' means the coast of the South Australian mainland and Kangaroo Island.

The safety equipment listed below is the legal minimum you must carry and includes the mandatory wearing of a lifejacket in some situations. 

The operator has a duty of care for their own safety, the vessel, and the safety of people who may be affected by their actions. This includes carrying additional safety equipment suitable for their boating activity, based on:

  • the type of vessel they are operating
  • the area of operation
  • expected water and weather conditions
  • the personal requirements of each passenger.

The safety equipment must be in good working order, readily accessible and protected from water and weather.

Some items of safety equipment carried on the vessel have an expiry date as a renewal reminder to ensure the equipment will work when needed, which may include life threatening circumstances.

Stickers are available from the Department to remind boaters of the safety equipment they must carry and to record the expiry dates.

Protected waters

These include all inland waters, excluding Lake Alexandrina, Lake Albert and any other waters subject to tidal influence.

Vessels under 8 metres

  • one personal flotation device (PFD) Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 for each person on board
  • one bailer with line attached or a bilge pump
  • one suitable anchor with cable
  • if the boat has an engine or cooking facilities, one fire extinguisher
  • if the vessel is being operated between sunset and sunrise, one waterproof and buoyant torch or lantern
  • one fire bucket
  • a pair of paddles or oars if your vessel is under six metres

 Vessels over 8 metres

  • one personal flotation device (PFD) Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 for each person on board
  • one bailer with line attached and a bilge pump
  • one suitable anchor with cable
  • if the boat has an engine or cooking facilities, two fire extinguishers
  • if the vessel is being operated between sunset and sunrise, one waterproof and buoyant torch or lantern
  • one fire bucket
  • one life-buoy with line

Semi-protected waters

These are waters up to two nautical miles from the low-water mark of the coast (including the Coorong) and from the banks of Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert.

Vessels under 8 metres

  • one personal flotation device (PFD) Type 1 for each person on board
  • one suitable anchor with cable
  • one bailer with a line attached, or a bilge pump
  • two hand-held red flares and two hand-held orange smoke signals
  • if the boat has an engine or cooking facilities, one fire extinguisher
  • one waterproof and buoyant torch or lantern
  • one fire bucket
  • one pair of paddles or oars or other means of auxiliary propulsion (if your vessel is under 6 metres)

 Vessels over 8 metres

  • one personal flotation device (PFD) Type 1 for each person on board
  • two suitable anchors with cables (if less than 12 metres one anchor may be carried as a spare)
  • two bailers with lines attached and a bilge pump
  • two hand-held red flares and two hand-held orange smoke signals
  • if the boat has an engine or cooking facilities, two fire extinguishers
  • one waterproof and buoyant torch or lantern
  • one fire bucket
  • one life-buoy with line

Unprotected waters

These are waters more than two nautical miles from the low-water mark of the coast and from the banks of Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert.

Vessels under 8 metres

  • one personal flotation device (PFD) Type 1 for each person on board
  • one suitable anchor with cable
  • one bailer with line attached, or a bilge pump
  • if the boat has an engine or cooking facilities, one fire extinguisher
  • one waterproof and buoyant torch or lantern
  • a two-way marine radio capable of communication with onshore stations
  • two hand-held red flares and two hand-held orange smoke signals
  • four litres of fresh water
  • the boat must be fitted with a compass, preferably liquid damped. A GPS is not a compass.
  • one pair of paddles or oars or other means of auxiliary propulsion (if your vessel is under 6 metres)
  • one fire bucket

 Vessels over 8 metres

  • one personal flotation device (PFD) Type 1 for each person on board
  • two suitable anchors with cables
  • two bailers with lines attached and a bilge pump
  • if the boat has an engine or cooking facilities, two fire extinguishers
  • one waterproof and buoyant torch or lantern
  • a two-way marine radio capable of communication with onshore stations
  • two hand-held red flares and two hand-held orange smoke signals
  • four litres of fresh water
  • the boat must be fitted with a compass, preferably liquid damped. A GPS is not a compass.
  • one life-buoy with line
  • one fire bucket

Additional requirements for vessels in unprotected waters and offshore

All vessels regardless of length, that are in unprotected waters more than three nautical miles from shore, except in Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, or more than five nautical miles from shore in Gulf of St Vincent or Spencer Gulf must carry:

  • one EPIRB (emergency distress beacon)
  • one V distress sheet.

All vessels in unprotected waters more than ten nautical miles from shore must also carry:

  • two distress rockets with parachutes
  • a map or chart of the waters in which the boat will operate.

Additional requirements for recreational boats more than 15 metres in length 

A recreational boat over 15 metres in length must carry all of the above, plus:

  • an additional lifebuoy with line
  • a life raft.

Water pumps and bailers

Pumps, if the vessel has more than one compartment, enough pumps must be carried to be able to drain each compartment.

If the bailer with line is suitable for use as a fire bucket, only one bucket is required, you can use the same bucket as bailer and fire bucket. If the vessel is required to carry more than one bailer, the fire bucket can be included as one of those if it has a line attached. The fire bucket must:

  • be of a kind and size suitable for the collection of water
  • not distort, collapse, or break when filled with water
  • be attached to a lanyard of a length and breaking strain sufficient to allow the fire bucket to be cast over the side of the boat and retrieved filled with water
  • be stowed as to be readily accessible in case of a fire.

The fire bucket does not have to be made from metal but it must satisfy the requirements listed above.

Requirements for fire extinguishers

  • must comply with AS 1841 in respect of the type of fuel or fuels carried by the vessel
  • is maintained in accordance with AS 1851
  • must be not less than the minimum approved size for the amount of flammable liquid carried.

Minimum size for fire extinguishers

The minimum size extinguisher in the following cases 

  • a vessel carrying not more than 115 litres of flammable liquid - 0.9 kg
  • a vessel carrying more than 115 litres but not more than 350 litres of flammable liquid - 2.0 kg
  • a vessel carrying more than 350 litres but not more than 695 litres of flammable liquid - 4.5 kg
  • a vessel carrying more than 695 litres of flammable liquid - 9.0 kg.

Having multiple small extinguishers does not satisfy the size requirement - ie if you are required to carry a 2.0 kg extinguisher, you must carry 1 x 2.0 kg fire extinguisher, not 2 x 1.0 kg fire extinguishers. However, if you are carrying the required size fire extinguisher, you may also carry additional smaller fire extinguishers.

Safety equipment for other vessels

Certain types of vessel are either partially or totally exempt from these requirements. Common exemptions include personal water craft (PWC) and a range of unpowered and human-powered vessels such as sailboards, kiteboards, small sailing vessels, kayaks, canoes and rowboats.

Please refer to the Harbors and Navigation Regulations 2009 for further detail.

Sailboard or kiteboard

Each person on board a sailboard or kiteboard must wear:

  • a PFD Type 1, 2 or 3 if within 400 m from the shore
  • a PFD Type 1 if more than 400 m from the shore.

and carry a waterproof torch or lantern when operating between sunset and sunrise.

Personal watercraft

Operators and any passengers on board personal watercraft (PWC) - such as jet skis, wave-runners, wet bikes and jet boards - must wear an approved Type 2 or Type 3 PFD, but are generally exempt from carrying other safety equipment.

Personal Watercraft are not permitted to operate in unprotected waters without approval from the CE of DPTI.

A canoe, kayak, rowboat or similar small, human-powered vessel operating in protected waters and semi protected waters must have:

  • a PFD Type 1, 2 or 3 for each person on board, the PFD must be worn at all times except in a rowboat
  • a suitable bailer unless the hull is permanently enclosed
  • a waterproof torch or lantern when operating between sunset and sunrise.

Canoe, kayak, rowboat or similar small human-powered vessel

A canoe, kayak, rowboat or similar small, human-powered vessel operating in unprotected waters must have:

  • a PFD Type 1 or 2, with a whistle attached, must be worn at all times by each person on board
  • a waterproof torch or lantern when operating between sunset and sunrise
  • a suitable bailer, unless the hull is permanently enclosed
  • a spare paddle
  • a V distress sheet
  • a tow line, at least 15 metres in length, of sufficient strength to allow the vessel to be towed in any conditions
  • 1 litre of fresh water

The following items must be carried, but if you are travelling in a group or with a support boat, only one of the vessels needs to have these. All vessels should stay within 50 metres of the equipped boat.

  • 2 hand-held red flares
  • 2 hand-held orange smoke signals
  • 1 compass, satellite navigation/GPS do not satisfy this requirement
  • a map or chart of the area of operation
  • a 406MHz EPIRB.

For a 12 month trial period from 23 July 2014, a kayak fitted with a small electric motor manufactured with a maximum capacity of no more than 150 newtons (33.7lb thrust) may be granted exemption from the carriage of specified safety equipment required for a vessel fitted with an engine. They must comply with the safety equipment requirements listed above for human-powered kayaks including the wearing of a PFD. For more information go to Exemptions granted to kayaks fitted with an electric motor.

Mono-hulled sailing dinghy or similar small multi-hulled sailing vessel

A mono-hulled sailing dinghy or a similar small multi-hulled sailing vessel, less than six metres in length, while in protected or semi-protected waters, must have:

  • a PFD Type 1, 2 or 3 for each person carried on the vessel to be worn at all times
  • a suitable bailer, unless the hull is permanently enclosed
  • a waterproof torch or lantern, when operating between sunset and sunrise.

Tender vessels

Any vessel used in conjunction with another vessel as a 'tender vessel' must have:

  • a PFD Type 1 for each person aboard
  • a bailer (or a manual or electric bilge pump able to drain each compartment of the vessel – other than an airtight void)
  • a pair of paddles or oars or other means of auxiliary propulsion.

If the 'tender' is operated 1500 metres or more from shore the PFDs must be worn by each occupant.

Safety equipment stickers

Several items of safety equipment carried on the vessel have an expiry date which serves to remind you to ensure the equipment will work when needed, which can include life threatening circumstances.  These items include fire extinguishers, distress flares, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB) and inflatable Personal Flotation Devices – commonly referred to as lifejackets.

The Don’t Expire – Expiry date reminder sticker has been developed to enable you to write the expiry date associated with these items of safety equipment on the sticker and stick it onto your boat in a clearly visible position where it can act as a reminder whenever you are boating.  

Safety Equipment checklist stickers for boats under 8 metres, 8 metres and over, and kayaks and canoes are also available to remind boaters of the minimum safety equipment that must be carried on your type of vessel.

For a copy of any of these stickers please contact the Boating Safety Unit by e-mail to dpti.recreationalboatingunit@sa.gov.au for a free copy.


Page feedback

Was this page useful?
What did you like about it?
How can we make it better?

We cannot respond to any comment made here. If you need a response, please use our contact page.

You can also help us improve the website by completing a short survey.

Page last updated: 30 December 2015