If there’s one rule to follow when you’re out on the water, its safety first. Above all, you should always practice safety when you’re out on a boat, whether it’s a yacht, dinghy, cruiser or even a jet ski (especially a jet ski!) Here are 10 of our top safe boating tips to protect you on the water.
Make and follow a pre-departure checklist
Good safety is mostly good preparation. Have a solid, thorough and written-down pre-departure checklist before you’re even thinking about leaving the marina or dock. You should be compliant with fire safety, equipment testing and fuel handling regulations. If you aren’t sure where to start, many boating sites have their own.
Know the weather
Always check the weather before departure. It should be item number one on your pre-departure checklist. Use apps on your smartphone, double check with TV and radio forecasts and the Bureau of Meteorology website. If conditions change suddenly, have a definite plan for heading back to port.
Have a float plan
A float plan, much like a flight plan for aircraft, tells relevant authorities and trusted people where you’re going, how long for and when to expect you back. The float plan gives people information on the identification, phone numbers and address of the trip leader and all passengers, boat type and registration, the itinerary of your trip and the communications and signalling equipment you have on board.
Know the rules of the “road”
Before heading out, you should know all the relevant navigation and speed rules before you slip the painter. You should know about rights of way, marina-safe speeds and know where all the buoys and navigational aids are. If you’re only in a dinghy or cruiser, don’t go out too far. Use your common sense!
Designate an assistant skipper
It’s good to be in command, but you should also have an assistant skipper with you so they can help out with safety, pre-departure checks and navigation. They’ll also be able to call for help if you’re incapacitated.
Brush up on your swimming skills
If you’re going out on the water, you HAVE to know how to handle it if you ever capsize or fall in. You should sign up for basic swimming lessons if you don’t know how. Your local pool or leisure centre will have lessons for all ages. If you aren’t sure, don’t get in!
Sign up for a boating course / get your boat licence
There’s no better way to become acquainted with watercraft and boats than going for your boat licence. You can’t really get out on the water without one.
Fasten and check your lifejackets
Always check your lifejackets. Make sure you securely fasten lifejackets to your body at all times. If they don’t inflate properly, it could mean the difference between safe rescue and something much worse.
Have your vessel maintained and checked by a professional
If you aren’t comfortable with doing maintenance and repair yourself, get a licenced professional to give your boat a once over. Some dealers may provide this service for little or no cost.
Alcohol doesn’t mix
Don’t drink on the water. Don’t be hungover on the water. Alcohol is dangerous by itself, but on sunny and windy days? You double your risk of accidents. Don’t do it!