New practical requirement for power boat licences
People wanting a power boat licence will first be required to get practical ‘on-water’ boating experience under a landmark safety reform announced today by Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi.
Launching a new practical component of the NSW boat licensing system, Mr Tripodi said anyone seeking a licence will have to complete a Boating Licence Practical Logbook under the guidance of an experienced skipper.
“These changes are the result of overwhelming feedback from the boating community,” Mr Tripodi said.
“When you apply for a driver’s licence you have to prove you have the practical skills to drive a motor vehicle. The same principle should apply for boating.”
Mr Tripodi said the Boating Logbook was part of a more rigorous approach to boat licence testing to ensure people boating on State waters have the best possible boating safety knowledge.
“Obtaining a General Boat Licence now involves three steps: the new practical component, completion of the Boating Safety Course, either on-line, by CD or at a training course and a theory test undertaken at a NSW Maritime office.”
The logbook will be available at all NSW Maritime service centres, RTA Motor Registries, and Government Access Centres. It can also be downloaded from Maritime’s website ready for the introduction of the new licensing requirements on June 1, 2009.
Mr Tripodi said licence applicants will have two means by which they can gain practical boating experience:
• undertaking a minimum of three trips in a powered vessel under the guidance of an experienced skipper and completing the Boating Licence Practical Logbook, or
• attending a practical course conducted by a Recognised Training Provider.
“To complete the logbook which contains a checklist of practical, on-water experiences, a ‘trainee’ must be accompanied by a licensed skipper who then verifies that the specific activities have been undertaken,” Mr Tripodi said.
“Compliance by the boating community is very high, above 90%, nevertheless random audits will be conducted to verify licence applicants have honestly completed the logbook.”
The list of practical activities includes:
• Awareness of navigation requirements and laws;
• Showing an ability to identify hazards and boating conditions while navigating the boat;
• Selecting a safe anchorage site in accordance with prevailing and forecast conditions and in accordance with legislation;
• Wearing a lifejacket;
• Selecting correct type of anchor for location;
• Manoeuvring the boat according to various conditions;
• Preparing a trip plan using checklist provided.
“As with people applying for a car driver’s licence, there is also the option of signing up for boat handling lessons through an accredited training provider,” Mr Tripodi said.
“So the option for each new licence applicant is to complete either an approved practical course with an accredited training provider or complete the new Boating Licence Practical Logbook with the help of an experienced skipper.”
The Logbook is based on national marine safety guidelines and has been developed in consultation with stakeholder groups.
“While not compulsory I encourage those intending to get their boat licence between now and June to use the logbook as a useful safety guide.”
Businessman Marcus Blackmore, a member of the NSW Maritime Advisory Council, said ”the underpinning of boat licences with an appropriate level of practical experience was a sensible approach by government to improving the safe recreational use of our waterways in NSW”.
The reforms have also been welcomed by the President of the Boat Owners’ Association, Michael Chapman.
“The new log book is a practical initiative to improve boating safety. The inclusion of safety tips for the skipper and trainee encourages a straightforward and consistent approach for licensing,” Mr Chapman said.