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River Murray vessels - be mindful of wash and its effects

16 March 2011

Skippers operating vessels on the River Murray are being reminded about the effects of vessel wash and their responsibility to ensure their safety and the safety of other river users.

Boat operators need to be mindful of the effects their vessel has on local surroundings. Boaties operating on the River Murray where wash can be a problem should abide by speed limits, pass other vessels cleanly on the plane and at a respectable distance.

“Wash is created as a boat moves through the water. Essentially it’s the water disturbance flowing outward from a vessel” said Brian Hemming, Director Transport Safety Regulation.

This disturbance can cause damage, injury, or annoyance to others on shore and other people boating in the same area of passage.

“We often get reports of high speed vessels passing close to smaller vessels such as canoes, kayaks and open boats, creating dangerous wash that has the capacity to dump the occupants or capsize their vessel" he said.

With the current increased level of water in the River Murray, the Department has been receiving complaints from residents about dangerous and careless vessel operators.

"Reckless boat operation is no laughing matter. The laws are plain and simple. A 4 knot maximum speed limit applies within 30 metres of any vessel adversely affected by your wash” said Brian"

This speed limit also applies within 30 metres of vessels being launched or retrieved from the shoreline, boat ramps, jetties and from wharves.

“We certainly follow up on reports lodged as a result of this type of incident, but only where full vessel identification information is provided. So we encourage you to get in touch with us if you witness irresponsible behaviour" he said.

A maximum penalty of $1250 applies where the 4 knot speed limit is exceeded. Where this type of behaviour is deemed to be dangerous operation of a vessel - the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment.

For further information on boating, visit