Personal watercraft

Find out important personal watercraft information, including safety equipment, safe distances, age limits, freestyle diving and prohibited areas.

  What is personal watercraft?

A personal watercraft (PWC) is a craft propelled by an inboard motor powering a water jet pump. The operator sits, stands or kneels on the vessel and uses handle bars to steer the craft.

PWC, power boards and similar craft are power boats as far as the rules are concerned. This means rules on the age of drivers, distance offshore they can operate, equipment to be carried, speed limits and so on all apply.

Personal watercraft FAQs

Find out how to be a responsible PWC rider - see the FAQs page for the most misunderstood aspects of riding Personal Watercrafts (PWCs).

  Safety equipment and tips

PWC sticker
PWC sticker

Personal watercraft (PWC) get some concessions on safety equipment. They do not have to:

  • Carry a fire extinguisher or anchor and line.
  • Carry distress flares (within 400 metres offshore).

A PWC Requirements sticker is available from Marine Safety, email us or call 13 11 56.

It is recommended you read and keep the Safety guidelines: Ride safe - Marine Safety brochure below.

Every person on board a PWC must wear a lifejacket at all times:

  • Within protected waters or within 400 metres of the shore in unprotected waters a lifejacket Type 150, 100, or 50/50S must be worn.
  • Between 400 metres and 2 nautical miles from shore in unprotected waters a lifejacket Type 100 or 150 must be worn. You must also carry an in date inshore distress flare kit in serviceable condition.
  • Between 2 and 5 nautical miles a lifejacket Type 100 or 150 must be worn. An in date inshore distress flare kit and an in date, registered EPIRB must also be carried.

Go to Lifejacket information.

Jumping a PWC over some wash
Jumping a PWC over some wash

Wave and wake jumping

Wave and wake jumping is defined as driving your personal watercrafts (PWC) over a wave or swell with the aim of becoming airborne. The wave or the swell may be formed naturally or by the passage of a vessel.

Wave and Wake jumping is prohibited:

  • Within 30 metres of another PWC
  • Within 50 metres of another vessel or person in the water.

Freestyle driving

Personal watercrafts (PWC) freestyle driving is driving a PWC in such a manner that the driver of another vessel would be unable to predict your course and speed in order to avoid a collision with you.

Freestyling is prohibited:

  • Within 30 metres of another PWC.
  • Within 50 metres of another vessel or person in the water.
  • In the Swan and Canning Rivers except in the gazetted freestyle areas.

  Distance offshore, age limits and RST

Distance offshore

All boats under 3.75 metres (12 feet) in length (including personal watercraft), must stay within five nautical miles from the mainland, unless they are within the limits of a port or within one mile of any island.

Recreational Skippers Ticket

Every skipper of a registrable recreational vessel powered by a motor greater than 4.5kwp (6 hp) (this includes PWCs) is required to hold a Recreational Skipper's Ticket (RST).

Age limits

  • A person aged between 14 and 16 cannot be in charge of an RST vessel unless they hold an RST.
  • A person aged between 14 and 16 may only operate a vessel during daylight hours and at a maximum speed of 8 knots.

  Prohibited areas

Personal watercrafts (PWC) are prohibited in the Swan River Marine Parks which are administered by Department of Parks and Wildlife. Please check the signs at the launching ramps before using your PWC.

  • All waters upstream of the Windan Bridge are closed to PWC.

  Personal water craft (PWC) in ski areas

There must be a minimum crew of two on a PWC; the driver and an observer. The observer, who must be at least 14 years of age, must face backwards to watch the person being towed, whilst the skipper, who must be at least 17 years of age and hold an RST, must face forward to maintain lookout.

PWC drivers need to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations for each ski areas they use. The rules for each area can be found in our boating guides.

Signs located at some launch ramps provide similar information.

  Aerial freestyle devices

Image of aerial freestyle device attached to a jetski
Image of aerial freestyle device attached to a jetski

What is an Aerial Freestyle device

Varieties of Aerial Freestyle devices, such as jetpacks, hover-boards and fly-boards are devices which can be connected to a Personal Water Craft (PWC) and use the water pressure to propel the device to aid propulsion of a person at the surface of the water, into the air and/or underwater.

Safe use of Aerial Freestyle devices

The Department of Transport permitted the use of Aerial Freestyle devices for recreational and commercial use in Western Australian (WA) navigable waters in 2013. Marine Safety approves this activity by way of a notice made under section 66 of the Western Australian Marine Act 1982 published in the Government Gazette.

For information including where the activity may be conducted, who may participate and what conditions must be met view Western Australian Marine Act 1982: Closed Waters Order - Aerial Freestyle Devices.

Users of Aerial Freestyle devices should also be familiar with the safety advice and instructions from the device's manufacturer. Particularly regarding advice on the weather conditions which the device has been designed to operate in, such as specified swell and wind conditions. Operating the device in conditions which are not in line with the manufacturer's advice could raise the risk of injury or incident.

Commercial operation

Commercial operation of Aerial Freestyle devices is regulated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012. Commercial operators with a PWC in service category Class 2C, 2D or 2E used in aerial freestyle operations may be eligible for an exemption from conditions attached to their certificate of operation under Exemption 03. For more information on requirements for commercial operators please see the AMSA website.

If you have any questions about the use of Aerial Freestyle devices in WA please contact Marine Safety.

Opens in a new window Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)


Page last updated: Tue Mar 15 2022 12:19:20 PM