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Stay safe on the water over busy summer season

Boaters are being urged to look out for each other, monitor weather conditions and wear a lifejacket to ensure a day on the water doesn’t end in tragedy over the busy summer holidays.

NSW Maritime Acting Executive Director Darren Wood said we’ve seen an increase in the number of people applying for new boating licences over the past year, and more people on paddle craft on our waterways, so boaters need to know the rules and plan ahead.

“We’re reminding all boaters, a skipper is responsible for the safety on board their vessel – that includes ensuring everyone is wearing a properly maintained lifejacket that is fit for use, and the vessel is not overloaded,” Mr Wood said.

“A skipper must also keep a safe distance from other vessels, structures and the shore, especially when our waterways will be congested over the busy Christmas and New Year period.

“It’s also crucial to monitor weather conditions closely. Weather conditions were a likely factor in more than 1 in 5 (22%) fatal boating incidents in the 10 years to June 2020.

“Unfortunately, of the six fatalities across the state since July, only one was wearing a lifejacket.

“Lifejackets are the most important safety equipment on any recreational vessel. In NSW you must service inflatable lifejackets once a year or in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember to check them every time before you get on the water.”

Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos said around two thirds of all calls to Marine Rescue relate to problems with engines, batteries and fuel and boaters are reminded to ensure their vessel is seaworthy.

“Simple things such as changing the fuel, oil and oil filter, checking the engine, gearbox and propeller; charging the battery, testing the electronics and making sure you have the required safety equipment can mean the difference between a safe and enjoyable day on the water and a potentially life-threatening situation,” Mr Tannos said.

“Water users are also reminded in an emergency, every second counts. Boaters should Log On with Marine Rescue on VHF Channel 16 or the Marine Rescue app before heading out. Marine Rescue volunteers will watch out for your safe return and if you don’t Log Off as planned, start searching for you.”