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Safety equipment

The safety equipment you need varies according to:

  • type of vessel
  • waterway
  • proximity to the shore.

A person must not operate a recreational vessel unless all safety equipment required to be carried on board is easy to reach and well maintained and serviced.

Everyone on board must know what safety equipment is carried, where it is stored and how it works.

This page provides a summary of what you need to know about the safety equipment you carry on your vessel with links to more information on this website.


Lifejackets are the most important piece of safety equipment on any recreational vessel. And in many situations you and your passengers are required by law to wear one. 

Our lifejacket website - www.wearalifejacket.vic.gov.au - has everything you need to know about lifejacket laws, choosing the right lifejacket for your lifestyle, and looking after your lifejacket.

Fire extinguisher (powered recreational vessel)

  • Dry chemical powder extinguisher required.
  • Number required depends on the size of the vessel.
  • Capacity depends on the volume of fuel carried on the vessel.
  • Ensure that extinguisher is charged and needle is in the green.

More information

Bucket with lanyard (can also double as a bailer)

  • Large capacity bucket recommended.
  • Ensure bucket suits shape of hull, e.g. square or flat sided bucket for use in boats with flat floors.
  • Lanyard must be attached and appropriate to the size of vessel.


  • Required when no manual or electric bilge pumping system is present.
  • Large capacity bailer recommended.

Bilge pumping system

  • Required when the vessel has covered bilge or closed underfloor compartments (other than airtight void spaces).
  • May be an electric or manual system.


  • One required if vessel is more than 8m but not more than 12m in length.
  • Two required if vessel is more than 12m in length.

Waterproof buoyant torch

  • Must be operational, fully waterproof and float.
  • Carrying spare globes and batteries is recommended.

Anchor and chain or line, or both

  • Must be appropriate for area of operation and size of vessel.
  • Several different anchor types available.
  • Different anchors are used for different seabeds, for example mud, sand, rock.
  • Must be of sufficient strength and durability to secure the vessel.
  • Pair of oars with rowlocks or paddles
  • Required if vessel is up to and including 4.8m in length.
  • A spare paddle is required onboard kayaks, canoes, rafts or rowing boats if travelling on coastal waters more than 2nm from the coast.

Dinghy or liferaft

  • Required if vessel is more than 12m in length.
  • Must be able to support the weight of all people on board in the event of swamping.

Distress flares, signals and rockets

  • Hand held orange smoke signals are primarily for daytime use.
  • Hand held red distress flares are primarily for night time use.
  • Red star parachute distress rocket fires a single star light to a height of approximately 300m.

All distress flares, smoke signals and rockets

  • Store in a waterproof container in a readily accessible position.
  • Replace when expired.
  • Keep flares away from fuels and combustibles.
  • Flares should be fired when you think you are likely to be seen by someone able to assist.

Marine radio

  • VHF (very high frequency), HF (high frequency) or 27MHz.
  • If HF/MF (medium frequency), a licence is required.
  • Radio range varies depending on the type of set installed.
  • Weather and navigation warnings are available at specific times throughout the day.
  • Radio is the most efficient form of remote communication.

More information about Marine radio & communications

Approved emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB)

  • 406 MHz Digital EPIRB have been required since 2009.
  • EPIRBs must be registered for free with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
  • EPIRBs can be GPS or non GPS enhanced.
  • EPIRBs with GPS enhancement reduce the search area dramatically.

More information about Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB)


  • The most reliable form of direction finding when out of sight of the coast or landmarks.
  • Can include electronic or wrist mounted models.

More information

Download a PDF factsheet containing information about the minimum safety equipment for recreational vessels.

More information about minimum safety equipment available on this website: