What to do in an emergency

What to do and who to contact in a boating emergency or incident.

If you’re in an emergency and require immediate assistance:


During the incident

  • Make your passengers as safe as possible, stick together and are wearing lifejackets.
  • Check to make sure there is no danger of the emergency getting worse, such as a leaking fuel line causing a fire.
  • Stay with your vessel, if safe to do so.
  • Use whatever you have available to ensure you are as visible as possible to rescue crews.


After the incident 

All marine incidents must be reported to the Department of Transport within 7 days. 

This includes all incidents that result in any of the following or combination of:

  • injury
  • death, or 
  • damage to vessel that makes it unsafe or unseaworthy. 

Find out how to report a marine incident.


Responding to incidents

As the skipper of a vessel, you are obliged to offer help if you hear a radio distress call, or see distress signals or a burning vessel - if it is safe to to so.

You are not obliged to offer a tow to other vessels.

You can offer to stand by until marine rescue arrives.

Find out more about your responsibilities as a skipper.

Page last updated: Tue Aug 1 2023 9:37:26 AM