Boating group pushes safety message

Staff reporterGeraldton Guardian

Australia Day is always a popular time for recreational boat users to get out on the water so the Boating Industry Association has urged people to stay safe and follow boating rules.

According to the association, government data collected over the past ten years revealed the highest number of recreational boating accidents happened in January.

“A NSW Maritime study found that the majority of incidents are collision-related, followed by capsizing and grounding,” Boating Industry Association chief executive Howard Glenn said.

“It also found that poor judgement and human factors, which can be linked to lack of knowledge, are a significant contributing factor.

“It’s very rare for an accident to occur because of faulty equipment; it’s most likely to be human error or weather.”

To help curb these figures, the Boating Industry Association has encouraged boat licence-holders to take an online Advanced Skipper refresher course.

“More than two million Australians have boat licences, and boats in the hands of the inexperienced, or those who are in need of a refresher on boating requirements, can cause accidents,” MrGlenn said.

“Most recreational boaters don’t go out boating often enough – not as often as driving a car, for example – so their knowledge and skills need to be refreshed.”

The course, which costs $55 and takes 60-90 minutes to complete, aims to reduce human error by providing drivers with training in areas including boating at night, bad weather conditions, offshore boating and boat ramp launching.

“Speed is a known contributor to accidents on waterways, so our course is also geared to expand the knowledge of young licence holders, who, like P-platers on roads, can be tempted to speed,” Mr Glenn said.

According to the Boating Industry Association, government data showed about 47 percent of boating accidents involved runabouts, while almost nine percent involved sailing vessels and about seven percent cabin runabouts.

The association suggested the following safety tips for boat users:

· Plan ahead and let someone know where you’re going, when you expect to return, and always carry a marine radio on board.

· Always wear a lifejacket when possible or ensure one is easily accessible and that everyone on board knows where they are and how to put them on.

· Don’t overload your vessel and never carry more passengers than your boat is authorised to carry.

· If travelling more than two nautical miles offshore, check in with the local marine rescue group. At Geraldton, this is Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Group: www.geraldton-vmr.org.au

· Always carry an emergency position indication radio beacon (EPIRB).

To sign up for the Advanced Skipper course visit www.advancedskipper.org.au.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails