Centre for Maritime Safety


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On the water 65Plus

Advice and safety tips to help our boating community aged 65 or over make safer choices.

On the water 65Plus brochure cover

Boating is an activity that is enjoyed by people with diverse backgrounds, abilities and ages. The following advice and safety tips will help our boating community aged 65 or over make safer choices when boating, sailing, paddling, undertaking towing activities, using a personal watercraft (PWC), or using public transport on the waterways.

Changes to health often come with age, and some conditions and circumstances can affect mobility and the ability to respond to surrounding conditions, potentially affecting what should be a great day out on the water. These may include vision impairment, reduced memory and problem solving abilities, heart conditions, loss of muscle mass and greater use of medications.

Checklists are included here to help develop safer on-water habits and make better choices when on the water and to stay independent and safe now or in the future. 

Here are some useful fact sheets:

Your Health

Whether you drive, sail, paddle or ride, you need to be aware of changes to your health that could affect safety on the waterways, either your safety or the safety of other people sharing the waterway.

NSW road crash data shows that people aged 75 years or over are three times more likely to be killed in a given crash than people in their twenties. This risk increases for people aged 85 or over, who are at least four times more likely to be killed. On our waterways, people aged 70 and older account for more than 20 per cent of fatalities, and yet only hold nine per cent of licences.


Lifejackets are a crucial piece of boating safety equipment. Not all lifejackets are equal and if you are concerned about your manual dexterity or ability to react quickly in an emergency, consider using an auto-inflatable model, or a foam lifejacket.  However, whatever lifejacket you choose, the most important thing is to Wear a Lifejacket – especially when using smaller craft or when alone. Lifejackets today are designed to be worn for the duration of a typical day out on the water. The modern lifejacket is functional and comfortable, can provide security in the event of an accident, and can buy you time to self-recover or wait for assistance, ensuring your boating days will continue for years to come.

Boating and giving up your licence

If the time comes to give up your licence to drive a powerboat or PWC, it does not mean giving up boating.  You might ask a friend or family member to do the driving and only take the helm at slower speeds when  you don’t need a licence if driving a powered vessel at less 10 knots (except for Personal Watercraft).

If you no longer need your licence, you can hand it in at any time by posting your licence to a registry or service centre with a short letter about your decision to stop driving.

Where you can go for help

Doctor and medical services

If you’re concerned that your health is affecting your experience on the waterways, visit a doctor. They can help to manage any medical conditions you may have and minimise the effect on your abilities to be safe.

Ensuring you have regular check-ups with your doctor is also important for your doctor to know your health status and this can help identify any changes that could be affecting your ability to operate a vessel safely.

Family and friends

Family and friends can be a source of support, not only for your boating needs, but as a way to become aware of changes to your boating ability that you may not have noticed.

Consider setting up a support network of friends, neighbours or club members so you can keep on enjoying the waterways.

Support and information services

More information is available from: