Boaters are urged not to be complacent and to check and update boat safety equipment.
Boaters are urged not to be complacent and to check and update boat safety equipment. Andrea Francolini

Warning to boaters: Don't be complacent

MARINE safety agencies are marking the start of the new boating season by thanking boaters for doing their bit to reduce incidents, while reminding them not to be complacent this summer.

"Boating is a favourite pastime in NSW, enjoyed by more than two million people. However, boating is not without risks and any life lost on the water is one too many," NSW Maritime acting executive Director Mark Hutchings said.

"With the cooperation of everyone who heads out on the water, the average number of boating fatalities in the last five years is 43 per cent lower than what it was five years ago and we want that downward trend to go even further.

"Our boating safety officers are continuing to carry out regular random safety checks to ensure boats and safety equipment are up to standard across NSW waters and this long weekend will be no different, with the Check the Decks operation ensuring boats are in good working order after the winter break."

NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers across NSW waterways work cooperatively with NSW Police Marine Area Command Officers in ensuring compliance with drug and alcohol laws.

NSW Police Force Marine Area Commander acting superintendent Todd Cunningham said police want everyone to enjoy the state's waterways safely over the boating season.

"With significant maritime traffic expected on Sydney Harbour and on waterways across the state, the NSW Police Marine Area Command will be out to ensure the safety of all those that choose to enjoy activities on the water," acting Supt Cunningham said.

"Police will continue their proactive approach in targeting anti-social behaviour and illegal activities on our waterways. Skippers are reminded that police will be conducting drug and alcohol testing, as well as compliance checks - so look after your friends and family and act responsibly."

Centre for Maritime Safety A/ Director Peter Harvey said the most important thing for those going boating for the first time in several months is to check their safety gear.

"Everyone heading out on the water should check all their safety gear and make sure all lifejackets are in good working condition and have been serviced in accordance with manufacturer's instructions," Mr Harvey said.

"This is because lifejackets are subjected to the heat of the sun and the harshness of salt which can cause damage and prevent them working properly.

"Even though it may feel warmer and the sun is out, the water can still be very cold if you end up in it. Cold water can be dangerous, so be prepared. Wearing a lifejacket could save your life."

Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos said MRNSW volunteers would be on duty at 44 units along the NSW coastline and the high-risk inland waterways of the Alpine Lakes and the Murray River at Moama.

"Our dedicated volunteers have used the cooler months to train hard and prepare for what's expected to be another busy boating season," he said.  

"I urge boaters to do their bit before they head out by checking conditions, always wearing a lifejacket and Logging On and Logging Off with their local MRNSW unit.

"Tell us where you are going, how many people are on board and when you are due back.

"Logging on is quick and easy. You can use the free MarineRescue app or your marine radio. We encourage boaters to make every journey safer by switching to VHF radio, which provides greater range and better reception."

The Check the Decks statewide maritime safety compliance operation is the first of the new boating season, focusing on compliance with safety equipment requirements and the condition of individual boats, motors, fuel lines and batteries. It continues until sundown on Monday October 7.