New Lifejacket Rules July 1 [UPDATED]

Lifejackets like the new Vaikobi are comfortable and unobtrusive.
From July 1, all kayakers need to be wearing a lifejacket at all times.

The following advice does not constitute legal advice. The legal references are included below. Read them and refer any questions to Roads and Maritime NSW.

Short version…

The 100 metre rule is gone.

Fines have increased to $250.


The only exception is if you are “accompanied”, which according to the latest advice from maritime means that you are “in the same boat”. That person must also be over 12 years of age.

    My opinion is…

    1. There has been huge debate around the lack of a legal definition for “accompanied”, but Maritime has had a legal opinion and will issue tickets based on their interpretation which is “in the same boat”.
    2. The exception for a double kayak is nonsense. If you were in a double kayak without a life jacket and are now in the water you are not in a position to render assistance. Wear your life jacket.


    It’s easier to put a lifejacket on and avoid the $250 fine.

    The advisory note is here…

    The full legislation is here…

    [updated: 3/8/2016]

    • As of the club AGM in July, the club requires all paddlers to wear a life jacket when on the water. No exceptions.
    • Canoe which is referenced in the legislation is defined as including kayak in Part 1, Clause 3, Paragraph 1 of the legislation.
    • Surf Ski is not defined. There was previously an exemption for SLSA skis which did not extend to ocean racing skis. The exemption now applies to vessels engaged in SLSA activities. So the definition is no longer important (in my opinion)


    1. Author

      Since everybody has started sharing this, it needs a disclaimer. I am not a lawyer and you should read the regs and make your own assessment. My advice is wear a lifejacket at all times and avoid the argument with the maritime officer.
      The regulations on the RMS website have not been updated as of 29/6/2016.
      There is a consultation draft that was circulated in January that contained what I believe to be the full regulations. Section 6, division 3 on page 56

    2. Author

      If you are reading the regs…
      You have to satisfy ALL of the conditions in clause 123.1 if you are not going to wear a lifejacket.
      The means it has to be daylight, AND enclosed waters, AND not alpine waters AND you need to be accompanied.

    3. Author

      The article has been updated to clarify some of the sources and opinions.

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