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Beyond The RMDL

Beyond The RMDL


Having a recreational marine driver licence (RMDL) requires completion of competency-based training. It may be convenient that the RMDL is granted only once and does not need to be renewed, but it does not always guarantee practical safety knowledge and good seamanship. If you are always driving your boat and go to almost the same places regularly, you probably will have no problem navigating your usual route and dealing with potential problems along the way. But if you are one of those who only take the boat out on special occasions, there may be situations that will catch you off guard, and you would not know what to do. The same thing may happen if you have upgraded to a new boat, and there are more technical and mechanical aspects that you have not dealt with before. If you are lucky, you may avoid being penalised for your mistakes; if you are not so lucky, the consequences may include a fine for violating a rule, or worse, major damage on your boat (and your ego!).

Further training has not hurt anyone. Every boatie should consider enrolling in a training course – yes even if you have already obtained your RMDL/PWC licence – whether it is simply for refreshing or enhancing boating knowledge and skills, learning the ropes on a specific vessel type or make, revisiting a bondage session to understand your knots, springlines and hitches, or obtaining advanced certification.


Anthony Cherisse, who has many seasons hiring catamarans and cruising the Whitsundays, has purchased his own Leopard 45 Catamaran, and now requires a Queensland marine licence. Tyson Norford needed a needed a licence after purchasing a new tinnie, and is looking forward to taking his kids out fishing in the Logan River

Brett and Nathalie (top) have been using their jet ski on the Broadwater for many months when they purchased a new 8m vessel. Although they already had their RMDLs, the added responsibility of having more passengers, friends and family on board demanded they sign up for advanced training to become more confident in all aspects with priority on safety. “We have done it all! We have run aground, been stranded, and been towed back after a couple of mishaps. We don’t want any more dramas. Now we would like to learn the right way,” Nathalie said. Karla Herbert-Evans, owner of Nautical Training and Marine Services, facilitated the training on their own vessel, an SDX 250 Searay with 300HP Mercury engine, with theory components and personalised training booklet to reference, specific to their vessel and requirements.

A new boating couple, Paul and Sissi, were ecstatic with their new Antaries 8 and keen to obtain their boat and jet ski licences to enjoy Broadwater cruising with their family. With English being only a second language for them, their boat dealer Peter Nicholson recommended on-water tuition and practical guidance for them to be confident with their GPS, collision regulations and IALA buoyage system to safely navigate the Gold Coast waterways.

They underwent two 5-hour practical on water sessions, including vessel handling, manoeuvring, and Broadwater navigation with Karla, prior to sitting their boat and jetski licence course. Karla recalls, “As I can only speak one language, I was very fortunate that both Paul and Sissi’s English was fluent and their 8-year-old son Eric gave extra assistance with translating, too!” Paul and Sissi had training on their Fab Dock setup, vessel start-up and shut-down procedures. They are now quite confident with their own vessel and navigating their local area.

Virginia was very pleased after completing her PWC Jet Ski Only Course.




Johnnie Macleod was keen to increase his confidence not only at the helm, but also with close quarter manoeuvring, and anchoring and docking. Although his main goal was to be more confident in navigating to Moreton Bay via Peel Island, for a weekend trip to Tangalooma with his wife and daughters, he obtained a lot more skills than that after he completed his training with Karla on his own dock in Hope Island using his own 2007 Searay 335 Sundancer. “The training was tailor-made to suit my boating needs, which included refuelling the boat in a safe manner. The pace of the course was relaxed but extremely informative at the same time.”

Brett and Nathalie took the four-hour Night Navigation course that included a short theory session before navigating from their home to Runaway Bay and returning, experiencing a magnificent Broadwater sunset to the sudden blackness of a dark moon! They also gained the skills of manoeuvring the vessel in various circumstances.

“The training was very helpful for us because we obtained a far better understanding of how to better manoeuvre our boat in different conditions, navigation skills (including at night), and to overcome our greatest concern – how to successfully moor our boat in a tight space between other boats and to depart smoothly.”


Johnnie was very happy with everything he learned from Karla. He has encouraged his daughters to obtain their combined boat and jet ski licence with her to ensure more onwater confidence for the responsibility and safety of their family and friends. He added, “We will as a family continue with updating our skills when it comes to all things boating.”

Brett also expressed their excitement. “Every time we go out boating, we are very pleased that we have done the extra training, which has really enhanced our boating enjoyment including with family and friends. I certainly did enjoy the Scotch after we returned from the Night Navigation training, having to avoid too many anchored boats that are not showing a masthead light or other lights.”


In Queensland, all candidates for a marine licence, that is a recreational boat licence or personal watercraft licence, must satisfactorily complete either an approved BoatSafe competency-based training and assessment program, or recognition of prior learning assessment with an approved BoatSafe training provider employed by a BoatSafe training organisation.

The BoatSafe RMDL training and assessment requirements is a competency-based course. These requirements outline the skills, knowledge and assessment requirements a candidate must attain to obtain a Recreational Marine Driver Licence (RMDL) to operate certain powered recreational vessels in Queensland. The requirements state what evidence should be observed by the BoatSafe Training Provider (BTP) when assessing competency of the candidate, what the candidate must be able to demonstrate and how well it must be done. A BoatSafe Training Organisation (BTO) must comply with the BoatSafe RMDL training and assessment requirements when developing and delivering a BoatSafe course. During the competency assessment, or a Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) assessment, all of these competencies must be assessed.

For more information, visit /boating/licences/recreational