Boating trips can be a lot of fun. They’re a great way to get away from the city and relax with friends and family. Whether you’re going fishing, getting out for some water sports or just going for a pleasure cruise, there’s nothing better than a day on the water.
Whether you’ve just bought a new boat or you’re looking at boats for sale, it’s vital that you understand the safety requirements before getting on board. Before you cast off, you need to make sure you’re carrying all the necessary equipment to meet all the applicable safety requirements.
To help you, here’s a list of the safety equipment that you’ll need on your boating trip.
Enclosed waters include bays and estuaries as well as inland waterways like rivers, lakes and dams.
It is a legal requirement to ensure you have enough lifejackets for everyone on the boat. Lifejackets should be stored in an accessible but secure area of the boat. In an emergency, you need to be able to quickly access all lifejackets.
Depending on the waters that you’re in, different types of lifejackets will be needed. In Australia, Level 50S lifejackets (or higher) are necessary for enclosed waters. This type of jacket is classified as a personal flotation device (PFD) Type 3.
Anchor and Chain
An anchor and chain helps to secure the boat in place when not moving. When choosing an anchor, you need to know the type of seabed that you’re going to be dealing with. For example, plough anchors are ideal for mud or sand. For reef anchoring, you would need a reef anchor.
It sounds simple enough. However, without proper planning, you can easily end up using the wrong type of anchor. It’s best to plan ahead for your trip and see what types of seabeds you will encounter.
Sound signals like bells, whistles or horns are essential for alerting others to your presence. This could mean alerting other boat users of the presence of your vessel in low-visibility situations, or for signalling for help in case of an emergency.
Paddles and Oars
You need another way of moving your boat if something goes wrong with its power source. For this purpose, paddles and oars are important.
Typically, these are needed for boats smaller than six metres. If your boat is larger you may need to find an additional power source.
Bilge pumps are used to remove water from the lowest part of your boat. With a bilge pump, you will be able to prevent too much water from collecting in the bilge. There are manual pumps, electronic sensing automatic pumps and integral switch pumps.
In New South Wales, every boat with covered bilges needs to have a pump that can remove water from each compartment. They can be manual or electric. For Victoria, an electric/manual bilge pump is required for closed underfloor compartments. If you’re in Queensland, all vessels between five and either metres will need to have a pump that has a 45-litre capacity.
Open water includes any unprotected coastal waters and can be defined as coastal inshore and coastal offshore water.
All the items above
All of the safety equipment required for enclosed water boating are also needed in open waters.
For open waters, the same storage protocols must be followed as with enclosed waters. However, for offshore use, your life jackets must be Level 100 (PFD Type 1) or higher.
Map, Chart and Compass
Should your electronic devices fail, a physical map, chart and compass provide important navigation fallbacks.
Yes, GPS and hi-tech devices are convenient, but they’re prone to breaking and malfunctioning. This is especially true in extreme weather conditions.
As such, it’s best to be safe and have a back-up navigation system, even if it means bringing an old school map and compass.
In larger bodies of water, sometimes a sound signal isn’t enough. You need something that cuts through thick fog and can be seen from a far distance. In open waters, you will need a distress flare to notify others that you need assistance.
When it comes to flares, it’s essential to check the expiry date. It usually has a lifespan of three before you need to get a new one. Additionally, it’s important to keep away from any soft moisture.
Flares will come with instructions and directions. Make sure you understand this before setting sail.
With this knowledge, you’re ready to be the master of your sails and the captain of your boat. To keep yourself and others safe, make sure you refer to this list before you head out for the deep blue sea. Even if nothing goes wrong during the trip, having all the necessary safety equipment will give you peace of mind. This way, you can fully enjoy Australia’s natural waters.