Stay Safe Around Ships
Moreton Bay Marine Park is beautiful place to enjoy being out on the water, and we do all that we can to make the area safe for
Recreational skippers should be aware that between 10 and 30 ships can be transiting the Bay area on any given day. If your smaller craft
travels too close to these larger ships, it can pose life-threatening risks to those on board. It can also lead to the grounding of the
larger vessel and also major damage or pollution.
Recreational skippers operating a vessel in the vicinity of large ships must have a solid understanding of how to safely navigate.
All recreational craft must keep well clear of shipping in the Pilot Boarding Ground off Mooloolaba. This position is
marked on nautical charts and Maritime Safety Queensland’s, Beacon to Beacon charts, and is where the pilot embarks and disembarks large
commercial ships visiting the Port of Brisbane.
Whenever possible recreational craft should keep well clear of shipping channels. Large ships must stay strictly within the
confines of the shipping channels and cannot go around you. They approach silently and can be travelling at speeds up to 20 knots, covering a
distance of nearly 2 kilometres in around 3 minutes. Smaller craft have very limited time to haul anchor, start the engine and move out of a
large ship’s path.
Check your nautical chart to plan a safer passage by minimising exposure to large ships. In most areas where ships are
operating, the depth of water well outside the channel is safe for smaller craft. Always check if there is a safer passage.
Increase vigilance when approaching the Port area and transiting the Brisbane River. In these areas, the margins for large
ships to manoeuvre reduce even further. The speed of a large ship will be reduced putting them at the mercy of wind and tide. Ships will
also be manoeuvring off berths and in swing basins often with the assistance of tugs and line launches. All need to operate unimpeded for
operations to occur safely.
Never assume a ship’s crew or pilot has seen you. Observing small vessels from a large ship is often very difficult, particularly at
night. Radar is not a reliable means of detecting small vessels.