Skipper Info

Skipper Role

The role of the skipper is arguably the most important on Port to Pub day. You are the key to a safe and successful crossing for all participants.

If this is your first Port to Pub, we recommend getting to know your swimmer or team of swimmers, as lifelong friendships are made from successful crossings. You are responsible for the safety of your craft, your swimmers and crew on board, and the safety of other swimmers and boats. For many swimmers, this is not a race (although everyone would like to make the crossing in the best time possible), and the safety of everyone in the water is of paramount importance. Solo swimmers have the right of way at all times. You are in charge and responsible for your swimmer’s safety. Keep a keen eye out for the safety of swimmers in the water in your immediate vicinity.

The most difficult task is a successful start where care, calm, and good manners are important. Know the starting protocol and stay away from the holding area until your swimmer’s wave has been called. Make sure that you have a plan, know how to identity your paddler and your first swimmer’s style, and how long it take for that swimmer to swim 1000 metres.

The changeover can be very stressful—take extreme caution, use good manners, and be calm at all times. Take it slowly and cautiously and beware of the ever present danger of the propeller as most injuries are caused by a swimmer’s own boat. Boats should not go astern at all. However, skippers can use reverse thrust to stop the forward way of their boat to avoid swimmer, paddler, or vessel collision. This must be done in a controlled manner with the skipper checking it is all clear directly behind his boat before acting.

Your swimmer must never be out of sight or out of mind. Set each crew member a specific task with one member being responsible to watch for swimmers. Your radio must be on at all times. Communication is the key to safety. Assign a crew member to this task.

A good skipper is prepared. Make sure you become familiar with either the mooring or beach anchoring etiquette of Rottnest Island. Review and familiarise yourself with the Port to Pub course ahead of time.

It is recommended that skippers become a member of Fremantle Sea Rescue. This event would not be possible without the assistance of Fremantle Sea Rescue. In the event of an emergency, Fremantle Sea Rescue will have a quick access to the database of all member skippers’ contact details and can help your crew as fast as possible.

Empower yourself by setting a good example for everyone around you, and have a great day!

Please refer to the Event Rules for more information for skippers.

Boat/Vessel Requirements

Support boats are to be organised by entrants. No personal watercraft (e.g., jet skis) is allowed.

Experienced skippers know how important it is to prepare their craft for the journey — to check that everything on board is current, up-to-date, and in working order.

Please ensure your boat is registered and that you have a current registered skipper’s ticket.

To determine how many people are legally permitted on board, please refer to the Department of Transport requirements. Your boat must be licensed to carry your whole team including swimmer/s, paddler/s, and all support crew.

Vessel size restrictions: Vessels used in the Hotel Rottnest Port to Pub are restricted to 5 – 12 metres in length. If your vessel is over 10 metres, you are advised to stay south of the channel and the main fleet.

You will need to supply the following information to register for Port to Pub:

  1. Skipper Name
  2. Skipper Address
  3. Skipper Mobile
  4. Skipper Email
  5. Skipper License
  6. Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue Group
  7. Boat Make
  8. Boat Length
  9. Boat Rego Number
  10. Do you have a mooring?
  11. If yes, Mooring number?

Checklist for the Support Boat

Additional Information

Boat skippers can accurately plot the courses via GPX. In order to import the GPX file, please consult your chartplotter/GPS system user manual or online information sources.

GPZ Download – Swim Course

Race Day Musts

Start Channel Support Boat Holding Area

  1. Prior to the start of their swimmers’ wave, the support boat will be required to wait in a holding area, north and south of swimming exclusion channel.
  2. Support boats must not approach their swimmers within a distance of 1000m of the mainland.
  3. North will be 600 metres north of the start channel (adjacent railway pedestrian bridge).
  4. South will be 600 metres south of the start channel adjacent the (Coast Port Beach restaurant)
  5. Support boats may choose which holding area to wait in, and should be in position waiting to enter either north or south of the holding area, 30 minutes before their swimmer’s allocated wave start time.
  6. The support boats must have their marine radios on and turned to VHF Channel 74. The boats to the front of the holding area 15 minutes before each swim wave’s start time.
  7. Race Official boats will patrol along the holding areas to ensure support boats maintain position behind the buoys.

Support Boat

After moving to the front of the holding area as directed by the boat coordinator on VHF channel 74, the boat coordinator will advise the support boat to move from the front of the holding area to the start channel.

Support boats moving from the holding area to start channel should avoid mixing with the previous wave support boats leaving the start channel area.

Support boats may only meet up with their swimmer after the 1000 metre buoys (two green buoys).

Unaccompanied swimmers must not proceed beyond the 1500 metre TAMS Tugboat.

25km ultra-marathon skippers need to plan with their swimmer the approximate time it will take for the swimmer to complete the 5km loop, and to reach the 1000m from the shore buoys (two green buoys) as they are not required to assist them on this loop.

Skippers should plan to arrive in a holding zone at least 30 minutes before their swimmer is expected to arrive at the 1000m from shore collection point (two green buoys).

Misplaced (Unaccompanied) Swimmer

A large tugboat (TAMS Tugboat) will be anchored at the 1500 metre mark. Unaccompanied swimmers must swim to the TAMS Tugboat, tread water and must not go beyond the 1500 metre vessel.

If the swimmer has not been joined by their support boat after 20 minutes, they will be returned to Leighton Beach.

Once the support boat has been located, swimmers and paddlers may proceed beyond the TAMS Tugboat. No duo or team member swimmers changeovers are to take place in the first 1000 metres for safety reasons.

Skipper Preparation

Support Boat Skipper Information

  1. Follow transport protocols on your way to the event. It will be dark, so have correct lighting. Allow plenty of time due to boat traffic.
  2. Support boats should be positioned in a holding zone (North or South) ~30 minutes before their swimmers allocated wave start.
  3. It is recommended skippers become members of Fremantle Sea Rescue.
  4. Boat skippers can accurately plot the courses via the GPX file located on our website. In order to import the GPX file, please consult your chartplotter/GPS system user manual, or through online information sources.
  5. All skippers must hold and be in possession of recreational skipper’s ticket, or similar valid licence.
  6. All support craft and tenders must have a valid licence and registration. It is recommended support vessels be 5-12 metres in length, the support vessel needs to make allowances for a skipper, paddler, water craft, spotter, support crew, swimmer/s. Vessels of 10m and over are advised to stay south of the channel and of the main fleet. Tenders should be 3.1 metres or less in size with a motor not exceeding 5hp. Anything over that size is required to be registered.
  7. Tenders also need to carry necessary safety equipment, including a marine radio. It is the skipper’s responsibility to make themselves aware of the regulations and requirements related to travelling to Rottnest Island (see
  8. Please note that if the support boat fails to meet Department of Transport (DoT) standards the swimmer/team may face disqualification.

Support Boat Information

  1. All Traffic, including emergencies and mayday calls: 74VHF. Mayday or Pan-Pan calls. Urgent messages such as a swimmer requiring medical assistance of any kind.
  2. General Traffic includes calls to locate a swimmer, breakdown and general announcements from the Race Day Emergency Team (navigation warning etc.).
  3. All boats need to keep within an 8-knot speed limit and stay ~10 metres from their swimmer.
  4. Boats withdrawing from the event must be at least 200 metres from the race channel and main fleet before increasing their boat speed past 8 knots.
  5. Support craft with single engines must be in neutral during the exchange of swimmers and they should not circle towards other swimmers’ paths during pickups.
  6. Support craft with twin engines must switch both engines off completely during swimmer exchange.

Support Boat Communications

  1. Boats should not go astern at all. However, skippers can use reverse thrust to stop the forward way of their boat, to avoid swimmer, paddler or vessel collision. This must be done in a controlled manner with the skipper checking it is all clear directly behind their boat before acting.
  2. Swimmers and boat crew must be aware of the vessels engine/s status making sure the propeller is not in use during swimmer exchange.
  3. All support boats must carry a marine VHF radio and have DoT mandatory equipment for vessels traveling more than 5 nautical miles from the mainland shore. Please note 27MHz channels will not be monitored as part of this event. Skippers must supply their marine radio call sign and a support boat mobile phone number and we recommend vessels to register as a member of Fremantle Sea Rescue(please provide your membership number if you are a registered member).
  4. Port to Pub recommends all vessels have a propeller guard.
  5. Support craft, paddlers and swimmers will be advised of commercial vessels expected to pass through the field by Fremantle Sea Rescue via radio communications and Fremantle Sea Rescue vessels on the water.
  6. Support craft and tenders must carry all required safety equipment and a first aid kit (see below and also
  7. Skippers need to submit a marine incident report form to the DoT Marine Safety Section within 48 hours of it occurring. It is the skipper’s responsibility to submit the relevant reports to the DoT.
  8. To determine how many people are legally permitted on board please refer to the DoT requirements, or refer to your boat builder’s plate.
  9. Your boat must be licensed to carry your whole team including, swimmer(s), paddler(s) and all support crew. Refer to the DoT’s rules on boat size and occupants.

Support Boat Safety Equipment

All support boats must be equipped with all required mandatory marine safety and emergency equipment as per the WA Navigable Water regulations listed below:

  1. Recreational Skippers Ticket
  2. Marine Radio VHF only (NB: 27 MHz will not be monitored for this event)
  3. Bilge Pump/Bailer
    • Boats greater than 7 metres must have bilge pump fitted
    • Boats less than 7 metres must have bilge pump or bailer bucket if bilge pump not fitted
  4. Fire Extinguisher
  5. Anchor and line
  6. One life jacket (PFD type1) for each person on board including all swimmers and paddlers
  7. Orange flares: a minimum of two hand held orange flares
  8. Parachute flares: a minimum two parachute distress rocket flares
  9. EPIRB: by law boats are required to carry an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB).
  10. See for more information.

Recommended Additional Equipment

  1. A first aid kit is recommended, carrying a remedy for seasickness and stings
  2. High protection sunscreen
  3. A sharp knife
  4. Rope is useful for towing, or pulling in your swimmer between changes
  5. A good supply of fresh water is essential, with the risk of sun and salt causing dehydration
  6. Alternative power – spare outboard, oars or paddle to assists in case of power failure
  7. A torch to use in emergency situation and checking bilges
  8. Tool kit
  9. Blanket, towels, sleeping bags, plastic sheets to keep swimmers warm and to manage hypothermia
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