Rising tide of boaters met with summer safety focus

10 January 2020

In a year marked by COVID-19 restrictions, hundreds more people have taken to NSW waterways.

NSW Maritime Executive Director Mark Hutchings said the welcome popularity of boating meant Transport for NSW's Boating Safety Officers had even more reason to ensure on-water safety is top of mind during the traditionally busy summer boating months.

At the end of November, there were 682 additional holders of general boating licences across the state, with an additional 1282 boats registered in NSW compared to the same time in 2019.

"Anecdotally, vessel usage has increased significantly during COVID-19 - including existing vessels being used more often, as well as new vessels out on the water," Mr Hutchings said.

"Starting in March 2020 and continuing right through winter and into spring, statistics show an uptick in both boat licences and registrations, which likely relates to COVID-19 causing an increase in interest in boating as one of the remaining leisure options."

Mr Hutchings said in NSW, there are no restrictions which currently apply to recreational boating when those onboard are members of the same household.

"If those onboard are not members of the same household, they should maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres from others, as is reasonably practicable and always remember to practice good personal hygiene."

He said it was important new boaties focused on following the NSW boating rules and any local waterway restrictions, such as speed limits.

"Sydney Harbour is for everyone to share, regardless of the size of the boat you are in," Mr Hutchings said.

Robert Sanasi took delivery of his first boat - a modest 5.7 metre motorboat - and was issued a mooring licence after successfully passing the test for his boat licence a couple of months earlier.

"We are empty nesters and recently moved to Lane Cove and it seemed like the thing to do. In March there wasn’t much to do, so my son and I got our boat licences," Mr Sanasi said.

"We aren't your typical boaters, though - a lot of people have had boats in the family. Whereas, I have zero boating history, so I’ve hired a guy for six one-hour slots to teach me gradually what to do on my own boat.

"If you make a mistake on land, the consequences are different."

For more information on safe boating, visit the Maritime and COVID-19 boating update websites.

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