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Safe boating guidelines

Planning to go boating for the summer holidays?  Review these safe boating guidelines first.

Whit motor yacht anchored at sandy beach

  • Get training from qualified maritime trainers. This will give you the best chance of gaining essential knowledge, rules and skills you need to keep your boat, yourself, family and friends safe.
  • Ensure you have the required in-date, safety equipment aboard your vessel. Know how to use it and where it is stowed.
  • Check current weather conditions and be prepared for the elements – Wear appropriate clothing. (Don’t forget sunglasses, hat, sunscreen and provisions) Summer thunderstorms and severe wind gusts are common during the summer months.
  • Boating at night is challenging – your vision is restricted and it’s more difficult to see whats happening around you. Ensure you have the correct navigation lighting and safety equipment on board if boating at night. Keep a good lookout and travel at a safe speed appropriate for the conditions.
  • Day or night pay attention to your surroundings. Be aware of other vessels around you and comply with speed limits, safe distances, and local state rules. The waterways are busier during summer – reduce your speed and give yourself more time, planning the day accordingly.
  • Five short, rapid blasts on your vessel’s horn means “danger – what are your intentions, stay clear.”
  • Monitor VHF (Very High Frequency) 16 on your marine radio.
  • Be prepared to move out of the way of larger vessels. They may not be able to see you, or, if operating in a narrow channel may be restricted by their ability to manoeuvre. Even if you have the right-of-way, you must yield to them.
  • Consult  your area charts – Look for chartered depths, hazards and restricted areas for your boating destination.
  • Obtain up-to-date tide, wind and current information before heading out.
  • Never get between a vessel and its tow – Tow cables/lines are often submerged and not visible.
  • Listen out for float planes taking off and landing. There is a designated safety zone around moving aircraft. A Foward Safety Zone of 60 metres in front of a moving aircraft and a 30 metre Aft Safety Zone behind a moving aircraft.
  • Boat respectfully – Keep wake and wash to a minimum to avoid damage to sensitive habitat, property or other vessels.
  • Even though there is a valuable place at the helm of your vessel for much of the technology available, remember eyes and ears are still the most valuable tools you have. Safe boating practice means balancing the technology you have at your helm, with full awareness of the environment around you.
  • Engage your crew and passengers by getting them to assist as lookouts. Maintaining a good lookout is a collective activity for all on board.
  • Report incidents – If you are involved in a boating incident or, see anyone violating safe boating practices, contact your local State Maritime Authority or in an emergency, press VHF: Channel 16 on your marine radio or, phone 000.
  • Be wary of the effects of drugs and alcohol when consumed on the water. Wind, water, sun and fresh air environment combine to intensify the effects which can affect balance, slow reaction abilities and impair judgement. Driving a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an offence.

More Information

See Boating Rules and Safe Boating guidelines published on the National Maritime College website.

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