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Stay well clear of ships when you’re boating

Recreational boat skippers are required to exercise caution and must stay well clear of all commercial vessels. Recreational vessels are prohibited from impeding the safe passage of large vessels navigating within the Port of Fremantle waters.
  • Community
  • Safety
  • Published 1 Dec 2021

With the first day of summer (and Noongar season Birak) today, more recreational boats will be taking to the water.

Recreational boat skippers are required to exercise caution and MUST stay well clear of all commercial vessels. Recreational vessels are prohibited from impeding the safe passage of large vessels navigating within the Port of Fremantle waters.

Harbour Master Captain Savio Fernandes said summer was a great time for recreational boat owners, but with the sheer number of boats passing through the Fremantle Inner Harbour and port waters it could also become a potentially dangerous time.

‘Ships visiting Fremantle often exceed 336m in length,’ he said. ‘They cannot stop or change course quickly, often travelling faster than you think and will cover a considerably long distance before they can stop.

‘Additionally, the bridge team on large vessels has a restricted view of the waterways with blind spots often extending more than 300m ahead.’

Container ship BS COSCO SINGAPORE and boat 1000

He said recreational skippers must always move with caution, keep a good look out and if possible, monitor radio channels (Emergency Channel 88 and VHF Channel 16). The recreational boat skippers are responsible for their personal safety and the safety of passengers in their boats.

He also warned about the danger of moving in front of large vessels: ‘Crossing in front of an approaching container ship, or any ship, is a very bad idea. You might have an engine failure or if you are on a sailing craft, the wind could suddenly drop and you could be in danger.’

The Port of Fremantle operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and there are more than 3,500 shipping movements annually in the Fremantle Inner Harbour, the approach channels and Cockburn Sound.

It is vitally important that commercial shipping and recreational boat users safely navigate the port's 383 square kilometres of water.

Captain Fernandes said under the Port Authorities Act 1999 the Harbour Master had considerable powers to control vessels in harbour waters and would do so if necessary. All incidents would be reported to WA Police and the WA Department of Transport who will investigate further and prosecute as required.

‘We understand most boat skippers try to do the right thing but with summer here we want to remind everyone of the risks and consequences of not complying with the rules.’

More information is available here.

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