Life jackets – the rules.

From July 1  2016, all kayakers need to be wearing a lifejacket at all times.

If you are paddling in the water you should  wear a life jacket. Just like you need to fasten your seatbelt in a car, or wear a helmet when you get on a bike.  Basically, the rules are there to keep you safe. It is your responsibility. Stay safe on the water.

Here are the new rules if you want to read them – These are the most up to date rules at time of writing and are the law, there is still some old information on the Maritime website that has not been updated referring to being more than 100m from shore, this distance has been removed from the new rules.  :

Here’s a summary worth reading about the rules :


What are the requirements for canoes and kayaks?

Children under 12 must wear a lifejacket at all times. If your child is over 12 years old, they must wear a lifejacket when they’re in a canoe or kayak on enclosed waters . If they’re in open waters, they must wear a lifejacket at all times.

Do I have to wear a lifejacket on a surf ski?

A ‘surf ski’ is considered to be a “spec” ski when used in Surf Life Saving NSW events, training and competition. All other “skis” such as ocean-racing skis, sit-on-tops, plastic skis and the like are regarded as kayaks (see separate category).

For this particular ski, SLS NSW has been granted a special exemption from having to wear a full lifejacket This applies to SLS NSW members when they’re training or competing within 500m of the shore on open waters.

Here’s a link to help you select the right life jacket for your needs :

Our club has purchased some life jackets, available to members who have forgotten to bring their own with them.

Thank you to Tradies for providing the funding so that we could keep our members safer.Sponsored Groups LogoThanks to Steve Dawson from the Shire for this sound interpretation of the new Rules. New Lifejacket Rules July 1

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 RMS officer I spoke to] means either…

  1. …in a vessel which has more than one occupant over 12 (this is specified in the regulations)
  2. …another paddler is close enough to render immediate assistance (this is not specified in the regulations)

My opinion is…

  1. There is nothing in the regulations that stipulates “accompanied” can be in another boat nearby. I think you risk getting a ticket.
  2. The explanation of “immediate assistance” that I was given indicated a distance of around 20-50 metres which is impractical to maintain at all times. I think you risk getting a ticket if you (or your companion) fall behind or stop for a drink.
  3. 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.


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

The advisory note is here…

Wear a life jacket - it never ruined a day in the water.
Wear a life jacket – it never ruined a day in the water.


the right equipment for you