Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) Acting General Manager Boating Operations Scott Kidd today urged those planning on heading out on the water this Easter long weekend to check the conditions, ensure they have adequate safety equipment and be mindful of others.
'Easter signals the end of the official boating season and is a popular time for families to get out and enjoy the State’s great waterways,' Mr Kidd said.
'While there is fine weather forecast for much of the state, conditions on the water can change in the blink of an eye. If the wind picks up, wave size can increase and the current can change.
'Always check the weather before and during boating and make sure you tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
'There is still a large amount of debris, much of which is submerged or semi submerged, in the water in the Mulwala and Bundalong area of the Murray River after the tornado which swept through late last week.
'Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) is advising boaters in the area to navigate with caution and avoid sports which require towing such as water skiing or wake boarding into the Easter long weekend. Use of personal watercraft should also be avoided.
'While some of the navigation markers which moved off station during this severe weather have been replaced by RMS Boating Safety Officers, many hazards remain unmarked.
'Skippers heading out in the north of the state should also be aware extra water from recent heavy rain and flooding has changed conditions with several navigation markers still out of place.
'The skipper is responsible for the safety of the vessel and everyone on board and must ensure a proper lookout is maintained at all times. This includes always keeping to the right of a channel, watching for small vessels, swimmers and debris and slowing down to account for the conditions.
'Skippers need to ensure all passengers have a life jacket which is the correct type and size and is worn when required – including during all towing such as water skiing, when on a personal watercraft, when on alpine waters, when crossing a coastal bar and by children under 12.
'There were 525 fines issued for non compliance with lifejacket rules in the 2011-2012 boating season. To date, the statistics show we are doing marginally better this boating season with 492 people fined.
'The lifejacket is the single most important piece of safety equipment on board any boat. Everyone should familiarise themselves with requirements as they vary. If in doubt, put one on.
'The waterways get crowded at Easter and parties on board boats are common. It is crucial people remember the blood alcohol limit on the water is 0.05, the same as on land.
'Random breath testing of the skipper can take place anywhere, anytime on the water while a boat is under way,' Mr Kidd said.
NSW Transport Maritime