Recreational Boat Users
Fremantle Port 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 shipping and boat users safely navigate the port's 383 square kilometres of water.
Recreational boats must keep clear of commercial shipping in all WA ports (see Department of Transport regulations)
- Small boats must steer clear of ships and give way to any large vessel.
- Just because you can see a ship doesn't mean it can see you.
- Remember that ships visiting Fremantle are up to 150,000 tonnes; they cannot stop or change course quickly and they are often travelling faster than you think.
- Don't anchor in shipping channels. Marked shipping channels should not be used for fishing or other recreational uses.
- Keep 50 metres clear of all shipping at all times, whether ships are berthed or moving.
- Don't tie up to navigation aids, such as buoys and markers.
- Keep to the 8-knot speed limit in the Fremantle Inner Harbour and keep to the right of the main channel.
- When you are travelling through the Fremantle Inner Harbour in your boat, don’t stop or turn your boat around to look at ships.
- Keep clear of berthing ships to avoid being caught between a ship and a berth.
Travel through port waters safely Collapse and expand this accordion
Fremantle Port waters are part of a busy working port. The marked channels are not recreational areas. Ships have operational limitations in restricted waters, such as shipping channels. Small boats must give way to any large vessel travelling in the same channel. A small boat can move safely out of a channel but a large ship cannot move into open water. Kayaks, windsurfers, jet skis, wave skis or any other personal watercraft should avoid the marked channels and should also be aware of the safety equipment requirements, which restrict these watercraft to inshore waters. Personal watercraft needing to travel through the Fremantle Inner Harbour must obey the 8-knot speed limit and keep to the right of the main channel. The general boating rule of: look right, give way to the right, turn to the right and stay to the right applies to Fremantle Port waters. When travelling through shipping channels, including Fremantle Inner Harbour, stay to the right and not the centre. Recreational vessels should also keep well clear of berthing vessels to avoid going between a ship and the berth.
Keep clear of shipping movements Collapse and expand this accordion
Commercial shipping movements are slow and deliberate, due to the size of the ship. Movements within the port are conducted under the control of skilled pilots. As ships cross into the port limits they can appear to zigzag through Gage Roads. These movements are made to keep the ship within the Deep Water Channel that provides safe passage to the Fremantle Inner Harbour or Outer Harbour, or to safe anchorage for deep-draft ships. Many of the aids that help the masters and pilots navigate a course are shore based and are not always apparent to recreational boat users at sea. Stay well clear of large ships. In Fremantle Inner Harbour, signs that a ship is about to depart include:
- tugs or the orange pilot boat waiting close by a ship
- a red and white vertical ‘pilot on board’ flag flying from a ship
- crew activity on a ship’s bow and stern.
Avoid shipping activity by staying well clear, observing shipping activities before entering a channel and remembering that small boats are far more manoeuvrable than large ships.
Ships have limited vision Collapse and expand this accordion
Vision is limited from a cargo ship’s navigation bridge. Containers, cargo-handling gear and the ship itself can all obscure the crew’s vision. Boat users cannot assume that because they can see a ship, the ship can see them. You must be able to clearly see the centre windows of the ship’s bridge to ensure you can be seen. The distance from which you can be seen can vary depending on the size of the ship and position of the bridge. Container vessels can have a ‘blind’ sector extending 1.5 km ahead of the ship.
Ships have limited manoeuvrability, so keep clear Collapse and expand this accordion
Find out how you can explore the port or get ferry and cruise info...