New Years Eve on Sydney Harbour


There is nowhere in the world which compares with Sydney Harbour’s NYE fireworks spectacular. Sydney Harbour turns into a huge outdoor theatre with the Harbour Bridge and city skyline creating a stunning backdrop for its internationally renowned fireworks display. This is combined with creative and colourful lighting effects on board the many commercial and recreational vessels on the water to watch this incredible annual event.

If you have a boat, there is no better place to be on New Year’s Eve than Sydney Harbour. BUT, be prepared and be safe, Sydney Harbour will be heavily congested with many vessels of all types and sizes, all jostling for a prime anchorage to watch the fireworks.

Here’s a checklist prepared by our Senior Trainer to provide you with some to tips  which will help ensure you have an incident free New Years Eve on the water.

Prepare your vessel

  • Ensure your engine has been fully serviced – fuel filters changed and steering checked.
  • Check your bilge pumps and alarms.
  • Check safety equipment – lifejackets (accessible and ready for use), fully operational horn, fire extinguishers, (current)current red hand flares, torches (2 fully charged), VHF marine radio, (channel 13 (harbour control) 17 New Year’s Event Control) fenders (minimum 3 either side).
  • Check you have the right size anchor for your vessel. Carry a minimum of 40 metres of line or cable together with a minimum of 3 metres of chain attached to the anchor. Carry a spare anchor.
  • Check Batteries. It’s advisable to have a dual battery system – one battery to operate electronics, navigational lights and sound systems. The other for engine cranking only.
  • Check that your navigation lights are working and visible for 1 nautical mile.
  • Top up fuel and water tanks.
  • Make sure you have a set of tools on board.
  • If you have a small runabout ensure you have a biminy and clears as it can get cool and windy on the water at night.
  • Check out the New Year’s event program and information on the Roads & Maritime website.

On the water at night
Stay alert and keep a constant lookout. Nominate others to help with lookout duties. Be aware of wake from larger vessels. Watch for stern lights on small vessels which may not be fitted with navigation lights. Adhere to the collision regulations and the 6 knot rule restriction in place on Sydney Harbour 3.00pm-1.00pm from Fort Denison to Goat Island.

Rules to remember

  1. Give way to vessels on your starboard side.
  2. Maintain your course if they are on your port side.
  3. Be prepared to take evasive action to avoid a collision at all times.
  4. Sound your horn– one blast – altering course to starboard, two blasts – altering course to port, three blasts – going astern, five blasts – unsure of your intentions.
  5. It is the Skipper’s responsibility to ensure the safety of passengers, crew, vessel and the safety of other vessels and people on the water.
  6. DO NOT plane your vessel in high density traffic areas unless you have good visibility and you are well clear of other vessels. (including moored vessels)
  7. Keep under the 0.05 alcohol limit if you are the Skipper.

On NYE anchoring is a high priority
Anchor up early in the day and be mindful of not laying out too much cable, keeping the standard scope of 3 x the depth of water. Be aware that yachts and motor cruisers swing differently in current and wind. So, if you are have cruiser anchor near other cruisers, or anchor your yacht with other yachts. Cruisers generally lay up into the wind, whilst yachts lay up into the current. Do not allow your vessel to lay of the boundary line. Anchoring is prohibited in shipping lanes after 2.00am on 1 January 2015. Securing your vessel to shore during this event is not permitted. When dropping anchor ensure you are 200 metres clear of submarine cables or pipelines. Use Farm Cove for anchoring only if you have a vessel less than 15 metres in length. Anchor clear of Exclusion Zone buoys.


Best Vantage Points
North-west of Sydney Harbour Bridge
Clarkes Point, Greenwich Ferry Jetty, Manns Point, Balls Head, Berrys Bay, Lavender Bay
South-west of Sydney Harbour Bridge
Mort Bay, Ballast Point, Snails Bay
North-east of Sydney Harbour Bridge
Neutral Bay, Shell Cove, Mosman Bay, Athol Bay
South-east of Sydney Harbour Bridge
Farm Cove, Woolloomooloo, Rushcutters Bay, Double Bay, Rose Bay



The National Maritime College (NMC) is a Registered Training Organisation providing competency-based boat training and education. The College offers boat licence and jet ski (PWC) licence courses and tests designed to improve boating skills and awareness. You can expect friendly and professional training from from us. It is the "personal touch" and dedication to improving safety on the water whilst instilling - confidence, knowledge and good boat handling skills that sets us apart.

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