COVID-19 boating update

NSW Maritime appreciates that many boaters and community members have questions about the public health orders and how they relate to water-based activities.

A sail charter vessel
A sail charter vessel

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16 SEP 2021

16 SEP 2021NSW Maritime - COVID-19 Boating Update

NSW Government Public Health Orders are being updated regularly. Restrictions on boating vary depending on the area in which you live. View the latest rules on the NSW Government Website.

Recreational boating and fishing is allowed, however the same restrictions apply as with exercise and recreation on land. You must remain within your LGA or be no further than 5km from your residence.

You are restricted to two people on a vessel or more if all are from the same household.

To access a boat ramp or marina it must be in your LGA or within 5km from your home. You must observe physical distancing and mask-wearing rules.

Coastal waters (up to 3 nm off land) are included as part of the adjacent LGA, but you cannot travel on a waterway outside of your LGA or more than 5 kilometres from your home if you are entering another LGA.

You can boat offshore if:

  • The location is within your LGA or
  • You stay within 5 kilometres from your home.

Where a body of water (a harbour for instance) is bounded by several LGAs you may be in that body of water, but may not travel through or past other LGAs to reach other locations.

Skippers must also remember their safety responsibilities regarding safety equipment, alcohol consumption, keeping a proper lookout and travelling at a safe speed

Areas of Concern

Tighter restrictions apply to Areas of Concern. For people in an area of concern, you must also stay at home unless you have a reasonable excuse. If you are leaving home for exercise or shopping for essential goods and services you must stay within 5km of your residence. A curfew now exists from 9pm to 5am.

For more information visit Areas of Concern on the NSW Government Website.

Boating in an Area of Concern

Stay at home unless you have an essential reason to leave.

Some boating is allowed as exercise (such as kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, PWC riding, and water skiing), and fishing from a boat or PWC is allowed.

General boating and cruising is considered an outdoor recreation and is NOT allowed.

For the latest COVID-19 information current restrictions, regularly check the rules on the  NSW Government website for updates.

Maintaining and servicing your vessel

The following activities are considered reasonable excuses to leave your home to ensure the safety of a vessel or undertaking a legal obligation and are not limited to your LGA:

  • Access a vessel at a marina or on a mooring to maintain, service or check on systems and make sure it is safe and compliant (as a legal obligation)
  • Take a vessel to a marina or boat shed for repairs or servicing
  • Pick up vessel from a marina or boat shed after servicing
  • Move a vessel between marinas or moorings for relocation purposes.

From Friday 10 September 2021, The Minister for Health and Medical Research has exempted boat owners in Greater Sydney (excepting those from LGAs of concern) to be away from their residence to travel to a marina or mooring to undertake work on their vessel to ensure it is maintained in a sea-worthy condition. This includes taking a voyage under the vessel’s own power or sail. This exemption is conditional on:

  • The exempt person must travel to and from the marina or mooring by the most practical direct route.
  • The exempt person must take reasonably practicable steps to remain 1.5 metres away from any other person during the outing and while at the mooring or marina.

A mask must be worn during the trip.

You must follow physical distancing and gathering rules at all times during any of the above activities. Visit social distancing information on the NSW Government website.

For Areas of Concern, a permit is required to enter or leave any area of concern. Authorised workers should refer to the information on the NSW Government Website to check the rules, particularly if traveling 50km outside of Greater Sydney.

Commercial vessels and charters

For crew: Commercial vessels and charter boats are considered places of work for crew and must follow the rules for workplaces. In general, commercial vessels in Greater Sydney can operate if they are providing an essential service, which does not include recreational charters. See details about workplaces.

For passengers: Recreational charters (such as harbour cruises, whale watching, diving, fishing etc.) are considered under the Public Health Order to be in the same category as restaurants, clubs, hotels and similar premises, and are not operating in NSW. See details NSW Government website.

Obtaining your boat licence

While the trainers and educators are allowed to operate, applicants and trainees can only gather in groups of two, unless from the same household, and must stay within their LGA or no more than 5 kilometres from their home,

Virtual training via an online platform is allowed, but practical training of more than two people outside their LGA is likely to be very difficult and not recommended.

Information about boat ramps

  • All boat ramps in NSW are managed by local councils, the National Parks and Wildlife Service or WaterNSW – with the exception of four ramps managed by Transport for NSW at Carrington, North Stockton, South Stockton and Port Kembla
  • Contact your local council for more information about boat ramps in their LGAs.
  • There are no current plans to close the ramps managed by Transport for NSW.

Reporting a breach of restrictions

  • NSW Police is the relevant enforcement authority for the Public Health Order and will use discretion to assess whether community members have a ‘reasonable excuse’ to be out on the water, and whether there have been any breaches
  • To report a breach contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a report via the Crime Stoppers website.
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