Until 2012 Jet-Ski operators were not required to carry very much safety equipment on their vessels. This was largely a hangover from the early days when such vessels were relatively small in size and fairly restricted in the nature and range of usage. This has been progressively changing as Jet-Ski’s grow in size and use more economical fuel injected 4 stroke engines. Jet-Ski operators often travel further than they did previously and some spend quite a bit of money setting them up for offshore fishing and adventures.

A few years back the State Government recently made some changes to the safety equipment regulations to address the reality of current and emerging Jet-Ski usage. This was a welcome move as it is only logical that Jet-Ski operators and their passengers need to be as safe as possible in the event of an emergency. The prospect of being broken down and drifting in open water on any vessel is quite frightening, let alone on a Jet-Ski. Modern Jet-Ski’s are more stable than the earlier models when not under power, this used to be more of a problem when drifting.

What needs to be carried on board a Jet-Ski?

There are several factors which determine this. Is the Jet-Ski being used on smooth, partially smooth, or beyond partially smooth (open) waters? The nearest partially smooth waters are the northern sections of Moreton and Hervey Bays. These are defined by the government and not a matter for individual determination. So at the Sunshine Coast we only have smooth and open waters. Many are surprised to learn that Mooloolaba Bay is open water, given that it often appears to be quite calm. However things can change quickly with a wind shift and the bay can become much rougher.

All Skippers–i.e…the owner and the master–are required to comply with the General Safety Obligation. This includes the requirement that the vessel is properly equipped. There are “must carries” (compulsory items) and then there are “should carries” (recommended items). Just because you are not required to carry certain items does not mean you should not bother. In the event of a vessel such as a Jet-Ski coming to the attention of the Water Police; Boating & Fisheries Patrol officers; Maritime Safety Queensland officers it could be alleged that the operator and/or master did not properly equip the vessel for its intended use.

Please refer to the enclosed link (above) to the Maritime Safety Website for full details of safety equipment requirements but must carries include a legally compliant PFD (lifejacket) type 2 or 3 to be worn by each person on board. These PFDs are now referred to as Level 50 and Level 50S respectively. Note that Type 3 (or Level 50S) are only permitted to be worn when operating the PWC on smooth water. Type 2 (or Level 50) PFDs must be worn by the driver and passengers when operating a PWC outside smooth waters.

In summary, if you equip a PWC with Type 2 (or Level 50) PFDs it can be used on all waters. If you equip it with Type 3 (or Level 50S) PFDs you are only permitted to use the PWC on smooth waters.


Must carries also include a current handheld flare kit (2 red hand flares and 2 orange smoke flares) and a V-Sheet when operating outside smooth waters. There is an exception to this requirement for pole skis which are unable to carry the additional equipment–as long as they are operated on smooth waters; are involved in an aquatic event; or stay within half a nautical mile from the coast.

Long standing “must carries” include an EPIRB on board the Jet-Ski if it is operated outside smooth and partially smooth waters and more than 2 nautical miles from the coast. Similarly it is required to carry a signalling device such as a waterproof torch if operating after sunset or before sunrise. (Note – navigation lights would also be required). These are not new requirements.

Should carries on smooth water include water; bailing equipment (eg bilge pump); anchor and required length of anchor line.

Should carries outside smooth waters include the above requirements for smooth waters plus a chart of the area and compass or a handheld electronic navigation device (eg GPS).

A responsible Jet-Ski owner and/or operator will carry what must be carried and give serious consideration to what is recommended to ensure the trip is as safe as possible. For example, a person who only uses a Jet-Ski for activities in Mooloolaba Bay might decide a GPS was not necessary but another person who goes well offshore fishing or adventure Jet-Skiing might decide that a GPS would be a worthwhile addition to the safety kit. It is a personal decision but it needs to be the right one to comply with the General Safety Obligation.

For more information or if you have any questions on what equipment you need for the type of Jet-Ski activities you intend to do call us or pop on in to North Coast Boating.