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Boating safety in the Gladstone area

Image of Gladstone Harbour.Gladstone Harbour and the surrounding areas are great places for boating. Because of construction work on Curtis Island there are more commercial ships working in the area and boaties need to take care when using the waterways around the harbour.

If there are any restricted areas and changes or hazards to navigation that affect boaties in the Gladstone area, a Notice to Mariners will be issued. 

QGC* is supporting boating safety awareness programs in the Gladstone area. Download their brochure on boating safety in Gladstone.

Gladstone ship navigation area

If you're the skipper of a small boat, keep clear of large ships in ship navigation areas.

The chartlet of ship navigation areas around Gladstone shows the safest course for small vessels to keep out of the way of big ships.

The master of a vessel 10m or more in length must report to Gladstone Harbour Control (vessel traffic service) on VHF channel 13 and keep a listening watch on that frequency when entering, leaving or moving within the Gladstone pilotage area. Sailing vessels are required to use the safe navigable waterway extending from the recommended small craft course for the South Channel and the waters to the south. After making the crossing of the shipping channel at aids to navigation G1 and G2, then proceed in a similar manner on the northern side of the recommended small craft course to travel to The Narrows or the North Channel, or until the crossing of the shipping channel towards the entrance of Auckland Inlet and the Gladstone Marina.

You can check shipping movements at QShips or the shipping schedule provided by Gladstone Ports Corporation.


Always check the weather forecast before you head out. You can get the forecast from:

  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • Maritime Safety Queensland’s weather service
    • all of Queensland – 1300 360 426
    • marine warnings – 1300 360 427.

The weather can change while you are on the water so get updates of weather conditions by contacting a volunteer marine rescue organisation by marine radio.

If the weather does get worse, it may take more fuel on your way back in if the sea becomes choppy or you have to head to a safe anchorage to wait out a storm. Always have more than enough fuel for your trip.

Tell someone where you are going

When you head out it is a good idea to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return – you can log on and off with a volunteer marine rescue organisation.

Keep a proper lookout

Traffic on the water doesn’t just come from 1 direction, it can come from anywhere. Skippers can use different methods to help them be aware of where they are going and their surroundings.

Use all available means to watch out for other vessels on the water, including getting your passengers to help. Remember, your eyes are the best way to navigate.

Safety equipment

Make sure you have the right safety equipment for the area where you are going boating. Check safety equipment requirements.

Flags, day shapes and lights

Image of flags R (Romeo) and Y (Yankee).Commercial ships use signals to alert other boats to what commercial activity they're engaged in like fishing, dredging, not under command, towing and diving. For example an 'R' flag over a 'Y' flag (image at right) means that other boats should proceed at a slow speed that creates no wash when passing.

These signals are in addition to the standard navigation lights indicating port-hand, starboard-hand and anchor lights. A simple rule is for boats is to stay clear of any other vessels that are showing warning signals in the form of flags, day shapes and lights.

If a vessel is displaying navigation lights like the illustration below, it means that it is restricted in its ability to manoeuvre due the nature of its work. Small, power-driven vessels that do not display any lights, except for navigation lights, must keep clear of these vessels.

Image of navigation lights for a vessel restricted in its ability to manoeuvre.

A larger version of the example of a ship limited in its ability to manoeuvre is available.

There are many other lights and shapes that show different activities that a vessel may be engaged in. The image below shows the most common types.

Image showing different types of lights and shapes.

A larger version of common types of lights and shapes is available.

Port security regulated area (no public entry)

The safety exclusion zones for Gladstone Ports Corporation-managed berths within the port are a distance of 60m from the wharves and wharf approaches, inclusive from the high water mark to the sea bed.

Commercial high speed passenger ferries

Ferries capable of speeds greater than 20 knots must display an all-round yellow light when underway or making way in Gladstone Harbour. 

Last updated
18 December 2018