Steer Clear of Big Ships in the Rip

VRFish, in conjunction with Victorian Ports Corporation Melbourne (VPCM), have refreshed the ‘Steer Clear in the Rip’ campaign ahead of kingfish season in Port Phillip Bay. The ‘Steer Clear in the Rip’ campaign encourages fishers and boaters to remain vigilant in Port Phillip Bay by steering clear of large ships in the rip area of Port Phillip Bay.

Next time you launch your boat you may come across a member of St Leonards Angling Club or Southern Peninsula Angling Club, who are handing out the new brochures to fishers at their local boat ramps.  The campaign highlights the importance of remaining aware of the Transit Only Zone when boating in the Bay. The updated brochure includes new kingfish markers and highlights the mandatory lifejacket area.

Steer Clear in the Rip

Port Phillip Bay is a hot spot for fishing, boating, yachting and other water-based activities. It is also a pathway for commercial ships travelling to and from the ports of Melbourne and Geelong which is why it is important for all water users to ‘Steer Clear in the Rip’.

The Bay is filled with commercial ships often including container ships, car carriers and cruise ships at all hours of the day and night. For recreational users, it is important to ensure that you keep clear of the ship’s path and can be seen at all times. Small boats, jet skis, paddle boards are all very difficult to see from the ship’s bridge and their typical line of site is shown in the image below.

If an approaching big ship is blowing it’s whistle, it is signalling for you to move out of its way. Big ships do not have the capacity to quickly manoeuvre or stop suddenly like small boats and the ship’s speed may be faster than it appears. For your safety as well as other water users, steer clear of big ships.

Map showing The Rip area of Port Phillip Bay with kingfish marks, mandatory lifejacket zone, marine parks and no transit zone


  • Anchoring, drifting and trolling in the Rip is extremely dangerous
  • The Rip in Port Phillip Bay is a high traffic area for ships
  • Don’t leave it too late. Steer clear of ships at all times
  • If you cannot see the ship’s bridge they cannot see you
  • Ships cannot alter course in the Rip
  • Penalties may apply
  • The skipper is responsible for the safety of their boat and all on board


Vessels must not anchor or drift within the Transit Only Zone (TOZ). Vessels are to keep landslide of the TOZ beacons which have a yellow cross at the top of them.

  • covers the Port Melbourne Channel south of the Breakwater Pier, the waters approximately 500 metres west and 200 metres east of that channel.
  • includes the Eastern By-Pass Channel and the Western By-Pass Channel (beside the Port Melbourne Channel).
  • extends approximately three nautical miles to the south of Fawkner Beacon.

Download the Transit Only Zone Map.

Visit the Victorian Ports Melbourne Transit Only Zone page for further information.


Lifejacket wearing is mandatory at certain times on vessels up to 12 m in length in the defined Port Phillip Heads because:

  • Port Phillip Heads has been designated a hazardous area by Maritime Safety Victoria
  • extra safety measures are imposed in designated hazardous areas.


The SafeTrx app, designed by the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard:

  • monitors your boat journey
  • alerts emergency contacts and the search and rescue (SAR) authority if you do not return on time
  • complements existing technologies that save lives at sea.

Learn more at

Steer Clear Safety Video by Victorian Ports Melbourne.

Steer Clear Safety Video

For more information:

Victorian Ports Melbourne
Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne)
Tel: 8347 8300

For more information on the Transit Only Zone Contact:
Navigation Services
Telephone: +61 3 9644 9758
Email: [email protected]

Download the Steer Clear of Ships In the Rip Safety Brochure

The ‘Steer Clear in the Rip’ campaign was funded through the Department of Transport Victoria.

Recommended for you

Subscribe to our mailing list

Join our 50,000+ subscribers in receiving our Fishing Lines News delivered straight to your inbox. Don’t miss out on all the issues affecting your fishing, projects improving your fishing and opportunities to have your say about your fishery.

* indicates required
Communication Preferences (tick all that apply)