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There are a few different options for getting your boat licence in SA. Some are just theory, whereas there is also the option to get more practical.
In comparison, it is much more straightforward to get your boat licence in South Australia than other Australian states. Firstly, one licence covers all, so there is no need to complete one licence for boating, and another one for Personal Water Craft (jet skis), if you wanted both.
Also, a boat licence in South Australia never expires! Unless you do something really wrong!
As stated by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, “You must hold a current boat operator’s licence to operate any type of recreational vessel fitted with an engine, regardless of the size of the boat or its engine, or whether the engine is being used at the time.
Children aged between 12 and 16 years can apply for a special permit to operate a recreational vessel in South Australia with the consent of their parent or guardian”.
Most options available require a test paper to be completed to prove your knowledge of boating. This is a multiple choice test, with a mandatory section that needs to be passed 100%.
The SA Recreational Boating Safety Handbook is a compulsory read for anyone wanting to pass the test. It is full of key, relevant information for every boatie. This is available free online at the link above, or at a Service SA centre or boat shows held throughout the year.
How to get a boat licence in South Australia
The South Australian Government has approved ways of completing the test and gaining a boat licence. It needs to be gained in one of the following ways:
- Service SA Centre – one of the most straightforward and quickest ways to complete the theory test and gain a licence
- South Australian Boating Licence – a registered training organisation that offers theory courses throughout South Australia
- Boat Shows – most boat shows during the year will have theory boat licence sessions held by either the Coastguard or SA Sea Rescue
- Seamanship Courses – these courses held by the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard or the SA Sea Rescue Squadron are in-depth courses to provide more knowledge and skills than just the theory test
- Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia – this is a practical course on a powerboat and is a great choice for someone with little to no experience of handling a power vessel
- Regional Training Sessions – Marine Officers often visit various locations during the year to provide theory sessions and an opportunity to sit the test paper. These are often driven by local communities so keep a look out in local papers or Facebook pages. They are also great fundraising events for local clubs.
Once you have completed the test in any of the above ways, you will receive confirmation from the issuer. You can take this confirmation to your nearest Service SA centre, fill in the application form,, pay the fee and be issued with your licence there and then (as long as there are no issues with the application form, such as medical reasons).
You do not need a drivers licence to apply for a boat licence.
Which option you choose is entirely up to you. Just have in mind your own previous experience. An option could be to sit the test at Service SA, walk out with a licence, buy a boat… How will you know how to drive it? Will all that theory really make sense out on the water? Just a couple of questions to think about.
It’s a great life, but you only have one!
Water loving British girl who moved to Australia and seriously caught the travel bug! Loves to explore and share destinations that inspire others to spend more time on the water and in the great outdoors. Typically, you’ll find her on a boat or next to the ocean, often in a daydream!