PROPER PRIOR PREPARATION……
With the month of December upon us, there’s a sense of urgency amongst the fishing fraternity, with the opening of the demersal season looming. Don’t get caught out thinking that the season opens on December 15, because the first fishing day is December 16. Up and down the west coast there will be a flurry of activity at boat ramps, so in the interests of safety and minimising anxiety, we should follow some basic procedures. And if you see someone having difficulty or a new boatie who does not understand ‘boat ramp etiquette’ , a polite word may be more productive than giving them a serve.
Parking on the actual boat ramp to prepare your boat is an absolute no no. Just because you are first there does not necessarily mean you will be first to launch. Those who live near boat ramps often have their vessel geared up ready to back straight down for a quick launch. Pretty frustrating when a skipper parked on the ramp starts removing tie down straps, trailer lights, securing ropes, bungs in, raising the motor, etc. Better to park in the rigging bay, if one exists, otherwise in the main carpark and sort the boat out there.
Other issues arise when a vessel launches only to find out there is a problem due to poor maintenance during the off season. Great idea to start the motor the day before rather than blocking up the boat ramp because you have to retrieve your boat straight after launching it. A boat laying idle for some time and not regularly serviced is a candidate for at least one of the following: flat battery, old fuel, steering seized, trailer bearings on the way out, lost bungs, impeller corroded and the list goes on. Other than the delay to other boats launching, nothing worse than buying bait, making rigs, organising your mates to come fishing, orders are in for Xmas Dhuie fillets, but you’re not going anywhere because you didn’t look after your boat.
I have written more articles on marine safety equipment than most of you have had baked dinners, so I will keep this as brief as possible, but also a little blunt, in the sincere hope that you do not become another one of the fatal boating incidents that has plagued WA this year. If the weather is dodgy on December 16, stay home. If you have a VHF radio, crazy not to log your trip on with ACRM Base on Channel 80. Dry, in date flares might not only attract attention quickly, but also save you a $200 fine. Is the EPIRB in date, contact details updated and copy of the registration in your boat or on your phone as is now legally required? And don’t get me started on lifejackets! Those old yellow chunky things stuck under the front of the boat, straps missing or perhaps still in the plastic bag. Think about finding them in an upturned boat, then putting them on in the water. Do yourself a favour or get someone to buy you a decent Xmas present that might save your life. Inflatable PFDs are cheap, lightweight and you don’t even know they are on. Proper prior preparation prevents p— poor performance!
To answer last week’s question, there are always big tides at Easter, as it coincides with a full moon each year. This week’s question is, “When should you transmit a ‘Securite’ radio call?”
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