Safe Boating Operations

Boating Definition

Boating activities at Flinders University are those that involve the use of all power boats, kayaks, canoes, dinghies, tinnies, submersibles, aircushion vessels and autonomous vessels.  It does not include the use of boats by recreational clubs or commercial ferries for transport.

Boating Approvals

As part of the Field Trip Approval Process and before the start of any University Field Trip involving boating, the Field Trip Leader must obtain approval from the Maritime Safety Officer (MSO) as part of the Field Trip approval process.  Using FlinSafe, please submit a Boating Safety Plan and Risk Assessment to the Maritime Safety Officer for review at least 3 working days (72 hours) prior to the commencement of the trip.

Maritime Safety Officer (MSO)

(Former title:  University Boating and Diving Officer, UBDO)

Matt Lloyd


Mobile: 0414 190 051

Office: (08) 8201 2534

Fax:  (08) 8201 3001

Work Health and Safety Unit; Registry Building (Room 009)

GPO Box 2100 Adelaide SA 5001

Boating Safety Plan

The Field Trip Leader should prepare a Boating Safety Plan as part of the Field Trip approval process. The details recorded in the form may greatly assist in the event of an emergency or search and rescue.

A Boating Safety Plan should include:

  • Boat name, length, registration and survey information.
  • Skipper/ Coxswain/ Master name, contact number, training and experience.
  • Dates, accurate location (including GPS coordinates) and number of proposed days on the water.
  • University personnel on-board. 
  • Details of daily scheduled calling to nearest Coast Guard or Sea Rescue.
  • Emergency contacts and protocol.

Note, alternatively, the Boating Safety Plan details can be recorded directly in FlinSafe. Use Tab 5, Vehicles to record details of the boat and skipper. Use Tab 1, Field Trip Summary, to record accurate GPS location etc.

Survey and Safety Requirements of Boats

Before leaving shore care must be taken to determine that the boat is safe and fit for purpose. Boats are required to carry standard safety equipment such as EPIRBs, life jackets, marine VHF radios, flares, fire extinguishers, first aid kits etc. The correct function and condition of this equipment can be critical in a boating emergency.  In Australian waters domestic and commercial vessels including the University boats must be inspected annually by a Marine Surveyor to ensure their seaworthiness and condition of the safety equipment.  If external charter or fishing vessels are used by University personnel, evidence of an in-date Certificate of Survey should be obtained. The Certificate of Operation should also be sighted to verify that the vessel is fit to carry the additional number of passengers and is authorised to operate in the proposed waters for the trip.

Roles, Responsibility and Chain of Command

The Field Trip Leader is responsible for the safe conduct of the trip and must have a good understanding of Flinders University boating policy and procedure. The Field Trip Leader must brief all participants of the likely risks, hazards, SWPs/ SOPs and the University’s emergency protocols. Copies of the Risk Assessment, SWPs/ SOPs and a Boating Safety Plan should be sent to all participants so that all team members understand the likely risks and hazards involved, can perform the task safely and are equipped with adequate knowledge to react in an event of an emergency. The Field Trip Leader must also ensure that the Boating Safety Plan, scheduled calling times and emergency protocol is understood by a University Nominated Contact.

When on-board the boat there is a distinct chain of command where the Skipper/ Coxswain/ Master is in charge of the boat and the safety of the personnel on-board. The Field Trip Leader is also responsible for the conduct of his/her team. Directions given by these responsible persons must be enacted by all participants.  

Note, the Maritime Safety Officer (MSO) is in charge of managing all diving and boating conducted through the University and has the authority to restrict, prohibit or suspend activities, or require additional safety practices, procedures or equipment to ensure safety. Note, any changes to a boating field trip must first be cleared by the MSO.

Certification and Minimum Training

University skippers should hold a ‘Coxswain Certificate of Competency’ (or higher) and current ‘Provide First Aid’.

Note, AMSA Exemption 15 can be applied for at the discretion of the MSO.

For further details please refer to the Flinders University Boating Safety Policy

Coxswain Register

New University skippers must register their details with the Maritime Safety Officer (MSO) who will enter the information on the University Coxswain Register. Details of qualification and level of experience must be recorded on the Coxswain Registration Form. Scanned copies of your boating qualifications and current Provide First Aid certificate must also be sent to the MSO. All University skippers are required to have a good working knowledge of Flinders University Boating policy and procedure.

Coxswain Safety Induction

The MSO (or experienced University Coxswain) inducts new University skippers by providing a Coxswain Safety Induction and will conduct on-water skill checks and training sessions to assist new skippers.  Refer to Coxswain Safety Induction & Training Form. The MSO may also undertake audits of existing University Coxswains and skippers. 

Flinders Uni Boats Listing 


Tom Thumb


Top Cat

All Skippers/ Coxswains/ Masters must abide by a boats Certificate of Survey, Certificate of Operation or applicable AMSA exemptions. Refer to the tabs above for a summary of each University boats specifications, survey conditions, maximum crewing and operational limits. Refer to the links below for a list of South Australia’s Smooth and Partially Smooth (2D & 2E) waters and Restricted (2C) waters (Schedule 4/ Exemption 40). University Skippers must also have a good working knowledge of relevant SWPs, SOPs, Safety Management System (SMS), pre-operational checks, emergency flip charts, vessel logs and daily mechanical checks for the boat that they will be operating. Care should be taken whilst using University boats and any faults must be recorded in the vessel log book and reported to the MSO within 24 hours.

Boat Bookings

Boats can be booked via the Outlook calendar. To load the Boat Booking calendars go to: Calendar > Shared Calendars > right click Add Calendar > From Room List > select Resource - Uni - Boat Bookings - Tom Thumb and/or Resource - Biology - Boat (for Tethys or Zodiac). Open the appropriate calendar, then simply add a booking in the New Appointment tab, specify the boat name, crew, project, dates and location. Note, boats are a shared resource, blanket booking are discouraged where possible. The MSO maintains oversight of boat usage and bookings, please contact if you have any issues.

Conditions of Undertaking University Boating Work

All participants must abide by Flinders University Boating Safety Policies and Procedures.  In short:

  1. All boating operations must be approved by the Maritime Safety Officer.
  2. A Boating Safety Plan should be submitted.
  3. A minimum of two people must be on-board.
  4. The skipper must be qualified and experienced.
  5. The boat is seaworthy and carries all appropriate safety gear.
  6. Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) are to be worn on-board AT ALL TIMES.
  7. The skipper must deliver a boat safety briefing to all passengers and crew.
  8. The boat must not operate in rough seas or hazardous conditions.
  9. A qualified first aider must be present.
  10. A scheduled calling system must be implemented with the nominated University contact and the local Sea Rescue or Coast Guard.
  11. For safety and fatigue management, working over 12 hours whilst operating motor vehicles or boats, in a 24 hour period, is not recommended.
  12. A “SPOT Device” (e.g. personal EPIRB) is strongly recommended for remote or commercial work.

Boating Safety Briefing

The Skipper/ Coxswains/ Master must undertake a full safety briefing on-board the vessel for all new crew and passengers. This should include details of the vessel’s Safety Management System and location of emergency safety equipment. This should be recorded in the Vessel log book and signed off by all crew and passengers.

Scheduled calling

The Skipper/ Coxswains/ Master must implement a scheduled calling system with the nearest Coast Guard or Sea Rescue Squadron.  Details such as boat name, registration, number of persons on-board, accurate location and scheduled calling times should be communicated. Note, VHF Channel 16 is the international distress frequency. Refer to the links for SA coastal radio network, SA VHF radio coverage or phone Coast Guard Assist on 8248 6100 for further details.

Towing Boats

Towing large boats can be hazardous. Only suitably experienced personnel are permitted to tow larger vessels such as Tethys and Tom Thumb. A boat towing training induction is required as part of the Boating Safety Induction & Training delivered by the Maritime Safety Officer or experienced University Coxswain. Additional towing training with an external RTO is also recommended for inexperienced participants. Note, prior to departure please ensure that the towing capacity of the vehicle used is adequate for the total weight of the boat and equipment. Please also check that the braking mechanism and trailer lights are functioning well. Whilst towing, a 15 minutes break every 2 hours is required to reduce fatigue. Note, refer to the Driver and Vehicle Safety Procedure for further guidance on University’s driving policy.

Fatigue Management

During boating field work, long days on the water, shift work, broken sleep and sea sickness can significantly elevate levels of fatigue. Studies have shown that untreated fatigue causes symptoms similar to alcohol impairment, including forgetfulness, errors in judgement, and reduced reaction time which can lead to serious injuries and deaths. It is vital when conducting boating field work that fatigue is managed with sufficient sleep, breaks, food and water.  Shifts over 12 hours in a 24 hour period, whilst operating motor vehicles or boats are not recommended.  

Accident, Incident or Near Miss Reporting

In an event of an accident or incident, the immediate health and safety of your crew and the safety of the vessel are the primary concern. Apply DRS ABCD immediately, then contact the Maritime Safety Officer (MSO) (0414 190 051), your Supervisor and the Associate Director WHS (0414 190 024) or 24 hour University Security (8201 2880).

Record details of the incident in the boat’s log book and tag out any faulty equipment.
Then log accident/ incident onto FlinSafe Staff and FlinSafe - Casual staff, contractors, students and visitors.  In the event of a “near-miss” please report to the MSO as this may prevent an accident or injury into the future

Diving and Snorkelling

If diving or snorkelling is planned on the boating trip please contact the MSO for additional diving approval and refer to the following University Diving and Snorkelling link.

University Boating and Diving Committee

Meets on a quarterly basis to provide advice to the Maritime Safety Officer and the University Health and Safety committee and discuss boating and diving safety policy, procedures and processes. All University staff or students are encouraged to raise discussion items. Agenda and minutes are available through the MSO upon request.