It’s coming into the Silly Season. Don’t go overboard on alcohol!

It’s coming into the Silly Season. Don’t go overboard on alcohol!

We all love a great time on the water, especially during Christmas and New Year. Whether it is commercial or recreational use, time on the water evokes merriment which in turn may lead to a sip, a stubbie or a session of alcohol.

Whether you are an owner, skipper, deckhand, server or cook – when you mix alcohol with your boating activity the consequences can be fatal.

Combine this with the responsibility of your fellow crew and passengers, it is imperative that you take this risk seriously, especially as we come into the festive season when alcohol consumption may be at its highest.

Alcohol consumption combined with the unpredictability of wind, waves and sun – can magnify the effects of alcohol very quickly and affect your judgement and skills.

It is extremely important to understand the alcohol limits and restrictions for each State, which do vary. Please click on the following links for more information:

Queensland :

Western Australia:

New South Wales:

Victoria :

South Australia:

Northern Territory:



Alcohol Testing on Vessels

Anyone operating a vessel, or a member of the crew, may be required by a police officer to submit an alcohol and or drug screening test.

There are penalties when your blood alcohol limit meets or exceeds the stated allowance detected in the:

  • operator of a vessel
  • members of the crew
  • water-skiers
  • observers
  • those towed in any manner behind a boat.

The penalties can include large fines and/or imprisonment. The court may impose an additional penalty and suspend or cancel a certificate of competency, including a boat operator’s licence.

If you hold a commercial marine qualification and are convicted of a drink driving offence, this information will be provided to AMSA, who may consider whether the person is a fit and proper person to continue to hold that marine qualification.

Did you know that the drivers of vehicles leaving boat ramps, yacht clubs and marina’s can also be prosecuted under the State Driving Acts applicable?

If you are entering the waterways, in any capacity, it is your responsibility to know the rules and ensure yourself, and everyone on the water with you is abiding by the law.

As we now approach one of the busiest times of the year for our industry, this year especially will be demanding given the border openings etc.

When times are busy, you can often become complacent with the little things, especially ‘assuming’ that all staff know not to drink on the job.

This definitely isn’t the case!

Don’t assume!

Now is the time to look at your alcohol policy and ensure all crew understand their responsibilities and their responsibilities to others.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Whilst some states allow blood alcohol limits higher, we recommend that all skippers and crew have a blood alcohol limit of zero as part of their general safety duty. This ensures their full awareness of their environment, and their judgement/skills will not be impaired with alcohol and/or drugs

Also, please ensure to have an open line of communication with your team. Safety is everyone’s responsibility and if staff witness alcohol consumption that is against your policies and/or may endanger safety, they should be encouraged to come forward and understand how the reporting process should be followed.


Our best tip is to ensure all persons onboard have read, understand and acknowledged the Alcohol Policy within your vessel and/or Company.

To ensure there is no confusion, here at Shorlink, we include with all of our SMS’s – an Onboard Alcohol Policy, Onboard Drug Policy plus Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy.

This ensures that our clients have peace of mind as they have provided their crew with strict policies. Should the need arise, crew can refer back to the SMS and owner’s have this in writing of their direction regarding alcohol.

If you are unsure if you have a Policy in place, please contact our office to discuss further.