Seamanship course

The South Australian Sea Rescue Squadron is committed to boating safety through education. The Seamanship course is a comprehensive course suitable for both novice and experienced boat owners and their families who want to ensure their safety while on the water.

Designed to provide the information required to operate your vessel with knowledge and competence, satisfactory completion of the Seamanship course meets the requirement for issue of a South Australian recreational powerboat licence, through any ServiceSA centre, on payment of the relevant licence fee.

The course is also recommended for juniors (12 to 15 years inclusive). Juniors will also need to successfully complete both a theory test and an on-water practical boat test, as per the requirements outlined on the SA Government website, to obtain a Special Boat Permit. (Google SA Special Boat Permit)

Completion of the Seamanship course is also a mandatory qualification for Sea Rescue Radio Operators and on water Operational personnel.

about the course

Courses are 8 weeks in duration between 7pm and 10pm on consecutive Thursday evenings. There is also a Sunday morning practical day that generally runs from 8am to 1pm. (Refer to the squadron calendar for dates.)

The course is suitable for people aged 12 years and up.


  • Boating Terms – Attitudes of a boat, broaching, yawing. UTC/24 hr time. Lat/Long. Cardinal, Qandrantal points, Sectors, Bearings, Nautical mile.
  • Chart Investigation – Symbols, Co-ordinates, Depths, Tidal streams, Sea Bed, distance.
  • ColRegs – Day Marks, Night Lights, Running Lights, Anchor lights etc.
  • ColRegs – Collision avoidance, Starboard side of channel, Speeds, Privilege/ Burdened, demonstrations
  • Pilotage – I.A.L.A. buoyage system “A”, Demonstrations
  • Marine Environment – Boat wash & speed. Discharge & jetsam. Marine life & care
  • Boat Handling – Trimming for safety & performance
  • Boat terms, & equipment
  • Boat inspection and familiarisation
  • Fire at sea – Fire at sea. Extinguishers, regulations, maintenance, Burns treatment
  • Flares – Types. Use as distress signals, safety issues, Regulations. Maintenance. Action on sighting.
  • Flare Demo – Practical use on foreshore
  • River Murray Regulations – Water Skiing, Locks, Ferries, PWC and Jet-ski regulations, PWC rules & regulations
  • Rope – Types of rope, treatment, care.
  • Safety at sea – Safety maxim. Trip preparation. PFD’s. EPIRB. Marine radio. Speed restrictions. Blood alcohol limits. Distress signals. MOB. Safety equip. requirements.
  • Knots, Bends, Hitches. – Bowline, Figure of 8, sheet bend, round turn & 2hh, Rolling hitch, Flemish bend, Clove hitch etc.
Week 4.5
Sunday morning session 0800 – 1300 approx. (Timing flexible – may move by 1 or 2 weeks)
  • Morning Practical Session Sessions with groups in rotation plus demonstrations
  • Morning Practical Session On water – boat
  • Morning Practical Session Mooring, rope work.
  • Morning Practical Session Radio procedures
  • Morning Practical Session Navigation
  • Boat Skills – Origin of mature sea waves. Swell. Handling rough seas. Big ships/little boats
  • Mandatory knowledge – Blood Alcohol limits, Trip prep. Safety maxim, diver below, pilotage and marks, collision avoidance
  • Boat handling – Close quarters manoeuvring
  • ColRegs – Multi craft exercise
  • Weather – SA Weather patterns. Synoptic charts. Forecasts. Severe weather. Accessing weather info.
  • Tides – Cause of tides. Tide tables. Surges and currents
  • Seminar session/Revision
  • Blood Alcohol Limits, position of craft at marina entrance. Sound signals. Diver’s pennant
  • Anchoring – Selection, use, setting up of ground tackle. Retrieving
  • Revision
  • Emphasise relevant parts
  • Exam procedures
  • Format of exam. Pass marks. Compulsory questions.
  • Examination

cOURSE Outcomes

1. Meet the requirements for issuance of a recreational power boat licence in South Australia subject to application at a Service SA centre and payment of any licence issuance fees.

2. Have a basic, working knowledge of recreational power boating, collision prevention regulations and basic navigation.

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