​Boating on the bay

Port Phillip Bay is a popular place for boating, fishing, yachting and other aquatic pastimes – but it is also a gateway for commercial shipping. This means big ships such as container ships, car carriers and cruise ships are using the bay 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, going to and from the ports of Melbourne and Geelong.

Safety on the bay

Keep well clear of a ship’s path and make sure you can see and be seen at all times. It is the best way to responsibly enjoy your time on Port Phillip Bay.

Boating safety videos

Click on the links below to view our boating safety videos to help you stay safe while you are enjoying your time out on Port Phillip Bay.

How to responsibly and safely share the bay with large commercial ships.

How to prepare for your time on the bay and learn about waves and how they are produced.

The facts

  • Around 4000 ships visit Port Phillip Bay each year.
  • Small boats are hard to see from a ship’s bridge. (See illustration below.)
  • Just because you can see the ship, don’t assume the ship can see you.
  • Many small vessels do not show up on radar.
  • Big ships can’t stop quickly or manoeuvre like small boats.
  • A ship’s speed may be faster than it seems and modern ship engines are quiet.
  • It is illegal to anchor or moor in shipping channels.

Line of sight from a ship’s bridge

Transit Only Zone

There is a Transit Only Zone in the north of Port Phillip Bay where vessels must not anchor or drift. Penalties apply. See the Transit Only Zone page for detailed information.

Useful links​ ​
​Ship movements ​Recreational Fishing Guide
Harbour Master's Directions & Port Information GuideWaves, wind & weather
Maritime Safety Victoria ​Port Phillip Bay forecast
​Victorian Tide TablesMetEye


Boating on the bay