Ahoy there to new recreational boat licence rules

NSW Maritime is hoping that practice makes perfect, with the announcement of major changes to how recreational boaties can obtain a licence to hit the waters of the Coffs Coast.

Reforms to the NSW boat licensing system mean anyone seeking a powerboat licence will have to complete a logbook and undertake trips under the guidance of an experienced skipper.

Obtaining a General Boat Licence now involves the new practical component, completion of a boating safety course, and a theory test.

Boating enthusiast and president of the former Coffs Harbour Jet Sports Boating Association, Richard Stubbs, has welcomed the changes.

“Queensland has been doing it for years and it really is about time,” Mr Stubbs said.

“Having to physically drive a boat to get a licence just makes sense.”

Part of the reform is the completion of a logbook, which contains a checklist of practical, on-water experiences such as identifying hazards and conditions, selecting a safe anchorage site and awareness of laws. Each practical activity must be verified in the logbook by a licensed skipper.

Boat Owners' Association president, Michael Chapman, said the logbook 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.

The Minister for Ports and Waterways, Joe Tripodi, said the reforms are a result of overwhelming feedback from the boating community.

“When you apply for a driver's licence, you have to prove you have the practical skills to drive a motor vehicle, and the same principle should apply for boating,” Mr Tripodi said.

The logbook will be available at all NSW Maritime service services and the new licensing requirements will start from June 1.

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