There’s always a rush of excitement in the air as the prime boating season kicks off and shifts into full throttle. However tempting it is to hit the water, it pays to take a step back first and check that all your safety equipment is ship-shape, and your boat’s in top form.
In 2022, there were 343 incidents reported to Maritime Safety Queensland, with 15 people losing their lives. Put boat safety first, and don’t become another statistic. Learn how to prevent an emergency when boating in the Redlands and why Redlands boat servicing can help you stay safe.
Check Your Equipment
The design of a life jacket varies depending on its purpose and a person’s age, size and weight. So, choosing the right life jacket is crucial to boat safety. What might be suitable for boating in calm waters may not be ideal for waterskiing, for example.
Life jackets need to be compliant with current safety standards. They must also be in good condition without rips or broken buckles. If you plan to go boating at night, they should have a reflective strip. Life jackets are a requirement for all registered boats.
You must wear a lifejacket if you’re:
- In an open boat less than 4.9 metres long when crossing an official coastal bar
- Under 12 years in an open boat that is less than 4.8m in length
- Riding a jet ski
All registered recreational boats over 5 metres in length must carry effective firefighting equipment. You should:
- Only buy fire extinguishers from authorised dealers
- Understand how your fire extinguishers work
- Ensure you get your fire extinguishers serviced or replaced as necessary
Visual and Sound Signaling Devices
If you get into trouble on the water while boating in the Redlands, it’s vital to be able to attract attention. Whistles and horns in good working order are essential.
All registered boats operating beyond smooth waters must carry handheld orange smoke flares (daytime) and handheld red flares (nighttime). A signalling device of some sort, such as a torch, is a requirement for any boat operating between sunset and sunrise.
Navigating with Confidence
Knowledge is empowering, and it never hurts to refresh yourself with all the basic navigation rules. These include:
- Abiding by any speed limits and reducing speed when there’s poor visibility
- Maintaining situational awareness to avoid collisions or getting lost
- Sticking to right-of-way rules and understanding what different sound signals mean
- Informing yourself of the many coastal bar crossings
Getting to Know the Weather and Tides
You should always check the marine weather forecasts before taking to the water. Keep checking them regularly once you’ve set sail. Check out bom.gom.au for the very latest, regularly updated meteorological maps.
Queensland’s severe weather season is from November to April. Abide by government directives at any particular moment when boating in the Redlands.
At the first sign of bad weather, ensure everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket. If you can’t get back to your mooring, seek shelter in rivers or creeks with mangrove fringes that can help protect you from the wind. Always have a plan.
Use Navigation Aids
Your boat should have some type of navigation aid if you are operating outside of smooth waters. This includes charts, compasses and GPS with navigation charts. You’ll find GPS verification marks at boat ramps. They’re there for you to check against the accuracy of your own GPS equipment.
Think of buoys and beacons as traffic lights for the water. Each mark has a unique shape, colour, light combination and top mark. You should familiarise yourself with the meaning of these to navigate Moertan Bay safely.
Staying Safe on the Water
The majority of boating incidents are avoidable. Many happen due to carelessness, inexperience or failure to maintain a safe vessel due to a lack of boat servicing with a reputable company like Mike’s Marine. Ignorance is no defence, so familiarise yourself with and abide by local rules.
You should understand how caution zones work around dolphins or whales. Boats should not travel at speeds of more than six knots or speeds that create a wake.
Stick to mooring best practices, such as approaching the mooring buoy by motoring into the tide or wind, whichever is stronger. Anchor outside coral protection areas.
Handling and Emergencies
Communication is vital to boat safety if there’s an emergency. It’s a 2-way street, meaning you need to be able to give details about your boat for the emergency services to do their job properly.
A float plan is a detailed inventory with useful info about your trip. It consists of the who, what, where, and why of your planned day out. You should share these details before you set off so that a third party is across your plans.
Before setting off, boaters should find their nearest marine rescue unit. These units urge boaters to log on and log off with them before and after every trip.
There are also several legal regulations to stay across when boating in the Redlands. These relate to both boat registration and the well-being of the skipper. There are very tough laws, for example, about alcohol or illegal drug use when in charge of a boat.
The Importance of Redlands Boat Servicing
The best way to prevent a breakdown and create an unnecessary emergency is to get your boat serviced regularly. It has the added bonus of extending the life of your boat as well.
Redlands Boat servicing is a sound investment and will help to ensure you stay on the right side of safety inspections. It’s well worth the effort to learn how to perform a few quick repairs, such as changing the fuel filter, cleaning and changing spark plugs, and checking and replacing fuses.
Talk to the Experts at Mike’s Marine
Inspections and servicing are only as good as those who carry them out. Mike’s Marine takes boat safety seriously and will ensure your boat complies with a thorough service check.