Boating in New South Wales: How to Keep Safe and Responsible

Red Pontoon Boat Tied to a Dock With Two Chairs

New South Wales is popular for boating due to its climate and waterway accessibility. If you’re a local, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve never tried boating your whole life.

Although relatively safe, there are still boating-related injuries and fatalities recorded, even with declines in these incidents over the years. The years 2016-2017 saw a total of 255 boating incidents, with four fatalities in recreational boating, the lowest number of water fatalities in the past 40 years.

Safety Equipment

The decline in boating incidents is credited to the improved design of vessels and equipment, and the use of lifejackets and other safety equipment. Having the necessary gear in boating and maritime safety should be an utmost priority.

Safety vests and products, such as lifejackets, are the most important pieces of gear you can have in a boat or vessel. Owners with a lack of lifejackets face penalties. Aside from saving you from penalties, lifejackets will also save your life if worn properly (in good fit and condition).

Lifejackets vary in style and function and may also differ from vessel to vessel. Other safety equipment that must be present include flares, anchors, fire extinguishers, drinking water, radios, boat maintenance equipment, and first aid kits.

Emergency Scenarios

Having the necessary equipment is one of the many requirements for safe and responsible boating. Knowing what to do in emergency scenarios, meanwhile, can save lives and reduce boating incidents.

A rule of thumb is to first assess the scenario while making sure passengers are safe. Keeping your radio on, observing for other hazards, and putting on lifejackets are good first steps. The following are some common boating emergencies you can look out for:

1. Boat Capsizes

Poor navigation or driving, overloading, as well as tipping and balance may cause your boat to capsize. Make sure your passengers stay near the vessel and do a head count. Turning the boat back upright, if applicable, should be done while bailing the water out. Have a good swimmer dive to retrieve lifejackets and other safety gear. Consider means of getting help afterwards.

2. Carbon Monoxide

A vessel with confined spaces may experience an abundance of CO thanks to the presence of engines, stoves, and heaters. It can be hard to detect CO due to its odourless and tasteless nature. Symptoms of overexposure include vomiting, nausea, shortness of breath, and blurred vision. Too much CO is dangerous, as it can lead to incapacitation and unconsciousness.

Victims must be removed from the source of the CO and taken for fresh air for medical attention. Checking your boat regularly and with a qualified technician should be done every few months to ensure good condition.

The following in your vessel should also be checked and maintained. Also, take action when needed:

  • Inboard engines, canvas enclosures, internal hoses, petrol generators, and exhausts
  • Do not use stoves or ovens in heating.
  • Keep fresh air circulation within the vessel, especially near engines or cookers.
  • Install a fan or CO alarms.

3. Boat Breakdown

man driving speedboat

A good and maintained motor should be less likely to break down. If your outboard suddenly stops and does not start, consider these troubleshooting steps:

  • Check if the tank has fuel and if the air vents in the vessel are clear. Check also the fuel line if it is connected.
  • If the fuel bulb is hard, squeeze it continually. Inspect the choke if it closes fully.
  • Investigate the carburettor’s air intake and the motor. Check your battery
  • Inspect your started cord, change spark plugs, and fuses. Make sure your kill switch is attached.

If none of these work, drop an anchor to secure your vessel and call for assistance. If approaching a danger zone, make a mayday call over the radio

Boating is a fun and safe hobby. It is one of the most popular activities in New South Wales, thanks to the variety of vessels and the people getting into the hobby. As a maritime activity, however, you must always ensure proper boating safety and steps when faced with emergencies. That being said, boating is a relaxing pastime and can be done in a fun and safe manner.