VRCA uses sophisticated marine traffic management systems and marine controllers to ensure a ship’s voyage into a port is safe. However, recreational boaters must take full responsibility for their own behaviour in port waters.

Commercial shipping operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These vessels are often large and they are ordered to stay within the marked channels or anchorages. When travelling at  slow speeds, such as when entering the port, they may not be able to steer away to avoid small recreational boats.

This is why big ships have the Right of Way in the channels.

Recreational boat owners MUST:

  • always show appropriate lights at night
  • keep a lookout for big ships, they can’t always be heard over engine noise, wind or waves
  • cross channels only when safe to do so
  • be prepared for large waves after a ship passes

Recreational boat owners MUST NOT:

  • go inside channel markers
  • anchor in the channels – it is illegal
  • tether to navigation aids such as buoys and channel markers

If an approaching big ship blows its whistle, it means ‘Get out of the way’.

Recreational boat owners must know the port waters and know their responsibilities. The Victorian Recreational Boating Safety Handbook contains guidance and safety information for all recreational boaters, including sailors, kayakers, canoeists, rowers, wakeboarders, water-skiers and kite surfers.

VRCA’s ‘Keep Clear of Big Ships’ campaign provides safety advice for recreational boat owners.