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PWC Speed and Distance

Safe speed

A safe speed is best defined as a speed at which you can stop to avoid a sudden danger.

This is rule #6 in the ‘International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea’ – the COLREGS (collision regulations).

Throughout Victorian waters, all vessels are required to travel at a safe speed at all times. Manufacturers are progressively introducing improvements that help the operator control the PWC and potentially avoid a collision. While these improvements are beneficial to new operators; nothing replaces the need to learn the proper skills and have the knowledge required to confidently and safely operate the PWC.

As the operator of a PWC, you will be be held responsible to constantly monitor the speed of your vessel to ensure that a safe speed is being maintained. Speed signs are visible on most Victorian waterways, and waterway zones are marked by navigation buoys. More information on navigation aids can found in Chapter 6 of our Marine Licence Course.

Finally, remember that stunts and manoeuvres must be done well away from other people, other vessels and the shore. If you cannot maintain the minimum distances off, you must slow down to 5 knots.

Safe distance

The main complaint received by marine authorities relates to the operation of PWCs close to other water users and/or the water’s edge. These are minimum safety distances that must be applied on all waterways unless a specific local rule provides otherwise.

When operating near beaches and swimmers, care must be taken to adhere to the speed and distance rules and be aware of people in the water.

Like any other boaters, PWC operators should make sure that they know the rules applicable to any waterway they intend to
use. More information on the waterway types and their applicable rules can be found in Chapter 4 of our Marine Licence Course. If you’re only doing the PWC endorsement course, you can instead view a run down of this in the Victorian boating safety handbook.

Key points to remember


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