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North Coast boaters urged to stay off the waterways this week

by Emily Rundle 17 Dec 2020 23:36 UTC
Marine debris © NOAA Fisheries

Boaters on Northern NSW waterways are advised to stay off the water for the next week with debris, severe flooding, king tides and strong winds causing havoc from Forster to the Tweed.

NSW Maritime Executive Director Mark Hutchings said rainfall of up to 500 millimetres had fallen in many parts of the NSW north coast since Monday, leading to potentially dangerous conditions.

"We are urging boaters to stay on dry land as there strong currents and hidden hazards beneath the water which will have low visiblity and poor water quality," Mr Hutchings said.

NSW waterways currently flooding include the Tweed, Richmond, Wilsons, Bellinger, Nambucca, Macleay, Hastings and Camden Haven rivers.

"Many of these rivers have not experienced a flood for a while which means a greater amount of debris floating downstream and potential risks for boaters," he said.

"This is not the time to be going out in the tinny for a fishing or sightseeing trip.

"Towing activities such as waterskiing and wakeboarding are likely to be dangerous for some time."

Several navigation markers, which guide skippers around hazards, have also been washed away from their locations in this week's storms so boaters who need to be out on the water should navigate slowly and cautiously.

"NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers are assessing damage to infrastructure and working to mark hazards and reinstate navigation aids but it could be some time until this process is complete.

"While the worst of the heavy rain and strong winds appear to have passed, the conditions on lakes and rivers is still not ideal for boating. Large ocean swells are likely to persist for some days and crossing coastal bars is not recommended."

Mr Hutchings said trailer boaters should also be aware there is a lot of siltation on boat ramps where flood waters have risen much higher than normal over the past couple of days.

Members of the public can report navigation markers washed away from their original location, or vessels washed up on beaches or rocks to NSW Maritime on 13 12 36.

For emergency help in floods and storms, call the NSW State Emergency Service on 132 500. In life threatening situations call triple zero (000) immediately. Visit www.ses.nsw.gov.au/when-to-call for information about when to call. For more information on boating safely visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au/maritime/index.html

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