​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.

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