ANOTHER LOST VESSEL AT SEA
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, with another fishing vessel lost at sea off Perth last week, I am probably never going to stop hammering home safe boating messages in the hope that it prompts boaties into taking every action possible to ensure that in the event of an incident at sea, they give themselves and their crew every possible chance of being rescued and coming home to see loved ones again. Politicians reckon if you keep repeating the key messages, then eventually it starts getting through to people, but I’m not so sure. Maybe people just think it is normal or part of the risk you take! So if you haven’t made those long thought about changes to how you store your boat safety gear, then now must surely be the time!
I do not pretend to know the full details regarding the latest incident, but at the time of writing the article the man concerned is over 24 hours overdue from a boat fishing trip, which is of grave concern given the circumstances. Reports indicate he was in a 6.4metre vessel and had advised his partner of his intended location and expected return time. The location was 55 kilometres offshore from Mindarie and return time 830pm. Departing at 830am, this was a significant boat trip, but not unlike many undertaken by hundreds of boaties each day around Australia. Being in a larger vessel of over five metres, with a semi enclosed cabin, can sometimes offer a false sense of security. Sure a small tinny can capsize more easily, but any boat can capsize for a variety of reasons, including swamping, hitting a submerged object at speed, bungs not in, broaching in large seas, etc, etc. I cannot firstly stress enough the need for every skipper to know if their vessel has flotation or not. Most dinghies have some foam under the seat, but many older fibreglass or larger aluminium vessels do not have any flotation. Even if a vessel does have flotation, a capsize is usually a sudden, catastrophic event and so there is no time to start searching for safety equipment. So if you’ve got those $20 special, yellow lifejackets tucked under the bow, flares under the seat and EPIRB strapped to the console, then you may well be legal, but, in my view, are an accident waiting to happen. Store the flares, EPIRB & even a waterproof VHF radio in a sealed container attached to the rail of the vessel and you at least have a chance of retrieving it, in the event of a capsize, without having to dive under the boat.
If boats continue to go missing and enough people die as a result, you can bet the issue of wearing PFDs will eventually be raised in WA. WA was the last state to introduce a licence to drive a recreational vessel and while it may have been controversial back in 2006, it is now regarded by the majority of people as a reasonable requirement. The wearing of lifejackets may not be so well received, but in other states there are special circumstances when it is mandatory to wear a PFD and these include skippering alone, skippering at night, children under 10 years, crossing an ocean bar and at all times when operating in an open area of a vessel. Make your own decision in the meantime, but one thing I know for sure is the odds stack up against you if you are a regular boatie and I will continue to ensure everyone on board my boat wears an inflatable PFD at all times.
To answer last week’s question, a sailfish is widely regarded as the fastest fish in the ocean. This week’s question is, ‘Are interstate boat licenses transferable?’
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