Coomera, Queensland, Australia: No matter how much experience you have, it’s always a good idea for everyone to review boating safety rules before departing for a day and particularly an extended passage on the water.
Below we’ve sourced some basic boating safety tips to help you and your crew stay safe but, as this is a guide only, please check your local laws to ensure you follow the rules.
Be weather-wise: Always check local weather conditions before departure; whilst television, radio and weather app forecasts can be a good source of information, it’s best to play it safe if you notice darkening clouds, volatile and rough changing winds or sudden drops in temperature.
Follow a pre-departure checklist: Proper boating safety includes being prepared for any possibility on the water. Following a pre-departure checklist is the best way to make sure no boating safety rules or precautions have been overlooked or forgotten. This includes:
- registration and boating licence
- life jackets and PFDs
- alarm sounding devices
- navigation lights/aids
- distress signals/flares/EPIRB
- marine radio
- tools and spares
- fuel and oil
- fire extinguishers
- other recommended safety equipment, such as a knife, drinking water and first-aid kit.
Use common sense: This means operating at a safe speed at all times (especially in crowded areas), staying alert at all times and steering clear of other vessels and watercraft that can be restricted in their ability to stop or turn. Also, be respectful of buoys and other navigational aides, all of which have been placed there to ensure safety.
Designate an assistant skipper: Make sure more than one person on board is familiar with all aspects of your boat’s handling, operations, and general boating safety. If the primary navigator is injured or incapacitated in any way, it’s important to make sure someone else can follow the proper boating safety rules to get everyone else back to shore. Also ensure passengers are aware of and familiar with the use of safety equipment, and practice a man overboard drill.
Develop a trip plan: Whether you choose to inform a family member or staff at your local marina, always be sure to let someone else know your trip plan. This should include where you’re going and how long you’re going to be gone. A trip plan can include the following information:
- name, address, and phone number of trip leader
- name and phone number of all passengers
- boat type and registration information
- trip itinerary
- types of communication and signal equipment onboard, such as an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).
Make proper use of life jackets: Did you know that the majority of drowning victims are the result of boaters not wearing their lifejackets? Make sure that your family and friends aren’t part of this statistic by assigning and fitting each member of your onboard team with a life jacket prior to departure. Wear it!
Avoid alcohol: Practice boating safety at all times by saving the alcohol for later. The probability of being involved in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved and studies have shown that the effects of alcohol are exacerbated by sun and wind.
Learn to swim: It’s an obvious one but if you’re going to be in and around the water, proper boating safety includes knowing how to swim. Swim training is available for all ages and abilities. Check to see what classes are offered in your area.
Take a boating course: Beginner boaters and experienced experts alike need to be familiar with the boating safety rules of operation. Regardless of your individual state’s requirements, it’s always important to be educated and prepared for every circumstance that might arise.
Conduct a thorough safety check: Many marine dealers can conduct these, or point you in the right direction, or you can find comprehensive checklists online: