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River or sea – make sure you’re prepared this season

The October long weekend is the unofficial start to the boating season and with warm weather forecast, this year will be no exception.

Some recent changes to boating legislation means there may be even more vessels on the water.

From 3 October, a six month boat registration is available for all recreational vessels up to seven metres in length.

Kayaks fitted with a small electric motor can be exempted from registration under a new 12 month trial. However, please note operators must apply for this exemption.

Whatever type of craft you have, if it hasn’t been used for a while, please take some time to ensure it’s working properly and your safety gear is up to date.

• Make sure you have the safety equipment needed, especially a life jacket for each passenger.
• Make sure your engine has been serviced to ensure you don’t get stuck and you’re not exposing your passengers to carbon monoxide or fuel vapours.
• Consider changing your oil and fuel, as older fluids may not be as clean and may affect engine performance.
• Check the rest of your safety gear, including the use by date of flares and the battery of torches and EPIRBs.
• Check fuel lines for cracks and splits, be wary when fuelling and refuelling, to minimise possible fuel fires. If you have an inboard engine ensure the engine bays are ventilated to reduce the chance of fuel vapour build-up and possible explosion. Lift the cover before the first start-up of the day to clear possible fume build-up.

Most importantly, respect the waterway you’re about to use. Check the weather and conditions before you launch.

And this applies to rivers as well.

The Royal Life Saving Australia found the River Murray was the country’s worst river for drowning, with 43 people drowning between 2002 and 2012.

Take care while you’re on the water. This means taking responsibility for the safety of your passengers and other water users.

• Encourage all passengers to wear personal flotation devices (life jackets) – they do save lives.
• Ensure the personal flotation devices carried are well maintained (especially inflatable types) and they are the correct size for the persons on board.
• Don’t drink. Alcohol was found to be a major factor in too many drownings last year.
• Know the rules. Remember a 4 knot speed limit applies within 50 metres of swimmers or a person in or on a kayak, canoe or similar unpowered craft.

Please take the time to do this preparation and behave responsibly so your time on the water this summer is fun and enjoyable.

Trent Rusby

Director, Transport Safety Regulation


Boat and marine safety

Carrying suitable safety equipment