Maritime Safety Queensland issues regular updates on the situation in that state regarding vessel movements during COVID-19 restrictions. The following are extracts from the latest advice, covering Superyachts, bareboat charter and live-aboards:
MSQ is committed to supporting the Queensland Superyacht Strategy and is working towards Queensland being recognised as the Asia-Pacific region’s superyacht hub by 2023.
MSQ has been working collaboratively with a number of superyachts and to facilitate exemptions for superyachts to cross interstate borders into Queensland for essential maintenance, upgrades and re-fits with locally based marine industries.
In such cases Superyacht crews have been able to safely self-quarantine onboard their vessels for the minimum 14 day period after arriving in Queensland Waters. To date, 5 superyachts have been cleared by the Chief health Officer to enter Queensland.
The Queensland Government is now working with Superyacht Australia to facilitate exemptions for internationally based superyachts to enter Queensland Waters for major maintenance, upgrades and re-fits worth millions of dollars to the Queensland economy. MSQ has received a number of enquiries from international superyachts wishing to come to Queensland, and applications for exemptions from border restrictions are presently being made to the State Health Emergency Coordination Centre and Australian Border Force on a case by case basis. MSQ and Superyacht Australia are working towards the implementation a streamlined process for exemption applications in the near future.
The economic benefits to local businesses and the employment opportunities created by these superyachts is enormous and critical to the economic recovery of the State as it emerges from the COVID-19 restrictions.
Under the Queensland Chief Health Officer’s latest Home confinement, Movement and Gathering Direction, Queenslanders are allowed to hire a sailboat for bareboating recreational purposes. Social distancing measures and hygiene techniques must be observed and the activity must take place within 50km of your home.
However, Queensland Health have advised that overnight stays and voyages are not permitted, as accommodation provided on these boats cannot be provided for holiday or leisure reasons. Public gathering restrictions of only going out with people from your own household or one other person who does not live with you must also be adhered to.
Queensland Health have advised that charter boat activities are not permitted under the current public health directions. At this time, gatherings in non-residences, such as gathering on a charter boat, are not allowed. Social distancing measures also still apply, which cannot properly be adhered to in a small space.
Queensland Health have advised that people who live onboard their boat as their home may continue to do so, but should stay within a primary place. You are able to travel within 50km of the vessel’s primary location for recreational purposes. However, you are not currently able to cruise along the coast to relocate to another location, unless you need to for a permitted purpose.
What’s the advice for Queensland’s recreational boaters?
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer advised that from Saturday, 02 May 2020 boaties are able to engage in water-based recreational activities within 50km of their home.
Social distancing rules always apply – special attention must be paid at congestion areas like boat ramps and refuelling points. Additionally, there is also the unnecessary contact risks you may create if you need assistance when out of the water – hence, for those venturing out prepare well before leaving home.
Boats should only contain family who ordinarily live in the same household, or skipper and one other person.
Please be aware all agencies and rescue groups are following the Chief Health Officer directions within their own work areas. All emergencies will be dealt with as a matter of priority, but less urgent incidents may potentially take longer to respond to. Volunteer marine rescue organisations and MSQ continue to provide a marine distress emergency radio watch on marine VHF channels 16 and 67.
Skippers are advised to notify a family member or close friend of their trip, including the route they intend to take, their destination and an estimated time of return; with instructions to call 000 if they do not return within a given period.
Skippers are reminded that a number of entities may have specific restrictions in place for their local areas with information available on their respective websites. Some examples are
Recreational areas such as dams, lakes and weirs
Closure of camping areas within Queensland National Parks, state forests and recreational areas
Access to some remote and indigenous communities including islands
Local Government operated marine facilities.
SEQWater, Sunwater and Gladstone Area Water Board re-opened their managed waterways to the public for use on Saturday, 02 May 2020.
Skippers are always responsible for the safety of their vessel and the people on board. This includes trip planning, vessel fully serviceable, having the appropriate safety equipment, keeping a proper look out and proceeding at a safe speed.