Develop Your Boating Skills

Marine Rescue NSW offers regular boat licence and marine radio courses throughout the year.

Boat & PWC LicenceRadio Licence

General Boat Licence and PWC Licence

Click here for a List of Boat and PWC Licence course dates

Boat courseMarine Rescue Middle Harbour offers Boat and PWC Licence courses and tests. These are run by experienced skippers who can teach you the ins and outs of safe boat handling and help build your confidence in local navigation and pilot rules.

Rates for Marine Rescue courses are extremely competitive and your fees make a valuable contribution to your local unit’s funds and our lifesaving services.
NSW Roads and Maritime Services is the authority responsible for setting boat licence regulations in this State.

If you drive a recreational boat at a speed of 10 knots (18.5 km/h) or more, you must have a boat driver’s licence. Ten knots is the speed at which most accelerating boats will start to plane – that is, rise up and skim on top of the water instead of ploughing through it.

Anyone who drives a personal watercraft (PWC) at ANY speed must have a PWC Licence.

Young Adult Licences also are available for those aged 12 to 16 years.

To obtain an initial General Boat or PWC licence, you must:

  • Complete the compulsory General Licence Boating Safety Course (or for PWC applicants, the PWC Licence Boating Safety Course);
  • Provide evidence of practical boating experience; and
  • Successfully undertake the general licence knowledge test (or PWC licence knowledge test) at a NSW Roads and Maritime Services service centre or recognised training provider (RTP), including Marine Rescue NSW.

A boat licence will not be issued to you until you have successfully completed all three components. For detailed information on what you need to do to get a boat licence, visit www.maritime.nsw.gov.au

You should study the Maritime Boating Handbook before attending the course. The handbook is available as a  download, from your local NSW Roads and Maritime Services office or Marine Rescue NSW unit.

Once you have completed a Marine Rescue NSW licence course, your assessment will be based on your score in the NSW Roads and Maritime Services accredited Recreational Boat Licence Knowledge Quiz and your class participation.

Once you’ve passed the quiz, you will receive:

  • A Certificate of Satisfactory Course Completion to present to NSW Roads and Maritime Services (you will also need evidence of your practical boating experience or successful completion of your accredited practical boat handling course); and
  • A Statement of Attainment Certificate issued by Marine Rescue NSW.

Click here for a List of Boat and PWC Licence course dates

Radio Courses


Click here for a List of Marine radio course dates

A marine radio is one of the most important pieces of equipment you can carry on board but it’s of little use to you if you don’t know how to use it to call for help in an emergency or other mishap. Middle Harbour runs a program of courses each year aimed at teaching members of the boating community how to use their marine radios correctly and appropriately.Before choosing the right course for your needs, it will be helpful to have an understanding of the regulations applying to marine radios and which require you to have a qualification to operate and a licence to own.

Radio typeMost common useQualification to operateLicence to own Price range¹Comments
27 Megahertz,
(27MHz)
Short distances on enclosed waters and near offshore.None required but a short training program will help ensure the user understands the correct procedures for proper marine radio use.Not required$150 upLow cost and best suited for enclosed waters, provides a range usually limited to line-of-sight. MRNSW recommends recreational boat owners re-equip with VHF radio, rather than purchasing 27 MHz radios
VHF
(Very High Frequency)
Inshore and coastal cruising. Range to 12 nautical miles from a shore station but may be as far as 30 nautical miles depending on location of base transceiver or repeater.Marine Radio Operator’s VHF Certificate of Proficiency (MROVCP) Provides the basic essential knowledge for the VHF radio operator.Not required. VHF set can be installed in your boat but operator is required to have a minimum of an MROVCP to use.Under $200 to $450 upThe most suitable radios for recreational boaters. Excellent voice quality, reliable and easily cover most areas used for recreational boating. Ongoing program of repeater installations is continually improving the NSW network.
MF/HF
(Medium and High Frequency)
Most suited for medium and long distances on offshore voyagesMarine Radio Operator’s Certificate of Proficiency (MROCP) Provides the operator with the knowledge of how to operate both MF/HF and VHF radios.The radio itself must be licensed by ACMA² (Ship Station Class B licence). Once licensed, the ACMA will issue your vessel with a callsign.$3,500 upFor vessels and skippers on long coastal or international ocean passages.

1 Guide only. Check your local retailer. Discounts and sales can mean good savings. Antenna also required (+/- $100 plus fitting).

2 ACMA – Australian Communication and Media Authority

The Marine Radio Operators Certificate of Proficiency (MROCP) and Marine Radio Operators VHF Certificate of Proficiency (MROVCP) courses are based on ACMA requirements.

The MROCP course will enable participants to operate VHF, MF and HF marine radios for enclosed, inshore and international offshore cruising. Course participants will gain:

  • the ability to use correct marine radio operating procedures, in particular those relating to distress, urgency and safety messages for VHF including DSC (Digital Selective Calling) and MF/HF (Medium Frequency and High Frequency); and
  • an understanding of the operation and controls of typical marine radio equipment; simple maintenance practices; and the regulations applicable to ship radio systems.

The MROVCP course participants will gain:

  • the ability to use correct marine radio operating procedures when using 27Mhz and VHF, including DSC; and
  • an understanding of the operation and controls of typical marine radio equipment; simple maintenance practices; and the regulations applicable to ship radio systems.

Some Marine Rescue units also run 27MHz radio familiarisation courses to help boat owners optimise the use of these radios.

Click here for a List of Marine radio course dates