Boat life gives owners a unique sense of freedom, relaxation and bliss. Being at one with nature presents calming characteristics, but as Australians we know that Mother Nature isn’t always in high spirits. There are various hazards that, if you don’t take steps to avoid, you can find yourself in some real sticky (and wet) situations. Maintaining boat safety while onboard your vessel is a top priority, whether the water is your weekend getaway spot or your forever home, it’s a-boat time you familiarised yourself with some important safety tips.
Water safety on your boat or houseboat
One of the most important water safety tips for any boat passenger is to wear a life jacket. Any children on board should be equipped with a life jacket to minimise the risk of drowning. If you’re a houseboat resident, don’t worry, we don’t expect you to sleep, shower and eat in your life jacket. But, making sure you wear it when the water is unsteady can be lifesaving. You should also ensure that your boat is equipped with life rings and heaving lines so that anyone overboard can get back safely onto the deck.
As a boat operator, you have a duty of care for your own safety, the vessel, and the safety of people that could be impacted by your actions. Throughout South Australia, many of these water safety tips are actually legal requirements depending on the waters that you reside in, type of vessel and the weather conditions. Make sure you check your regional government website for a more detailed outline of what is required of you.
Being water-safe isn’t just about keeping you out of the water, but the water out of your boat too. If your boat becomes inundated by water, there’s a risk of sinking. Remember – in most cases the water does not come from outside of the boat, but from the inside. Although a high-speed collision, a fuel explosion or a direct strike by lightning can certainly sink a boat, it’s a lot more likely that neglect and human errors will cause a boat to go down. If a small amount of water is continually getting into the boat, such as through a leaking hose connection, an ineffective shaft seal, or a minor structural leak, even a bilge pump might struggle to keep the boat afloat.
Boat safety tips to weather the storm
Aussie weather can be extremely unpredictable at the best of times. Unexpected weather conditions can be a pain when it comes to planning a trip, especially for your trip involves cruising the waterways. Be sure to check your local or state maritime authority and also the Australia New Zealand Safe Boating Education Group website for boating safety information. Before heading out boating, use the Bureau’s marine forecasts and warnings and run through the five vital weather safety checks to be prepared.
- Marine warnings: The Bureau of Meteorology issues a range of live warnings for marine areas when dangerous winds and waves are expected. Make sure that you’re keeping up to date with the latest information that could capsize your plans.
- Changing weather: Take note of forecasts indicating reduced visibility from fog or rain, or risks to safety from storms, hurricanes and lightening so that you can expect the unexpected. Stay up to date with forecasted information on UV levels to minimise sun damage. All coastal and local waters forecasts can be accessed from the Marine & Ocean webpage.
- Wind conditions: Winds of any speed can be hazardous when you’re aboard a boat. Make sure that you know the limits of your vessel and your own abilities. Marine wind warnings are issued when strong winds, gales, storm force or hurricane force winds are expected.
- Wave conditions: It’s critical to know what wave conditions are forecast because waves can make your boating trip highly dangerous and uncomfortable for all passengers.
- Tide times: Last but naut least, knowing when high and low tide will occur is important for boats entering and exiting rivers. The combination of an outgoing tidal flow or low tide can cause waves to become sharper than usual, making your boat extremely tough to navigate. The altering tide can cover rock platforms or reefs at high tide, whilst exposing them and creating a hazard at low tide.
Minimise the impact of unforeseen events
At Managed Insurance Solutions, we know that your boat is your floating pride and joy. We promise not to leave you up the river without a paddle, providing tailored solutions to ensure you’re protected prom anchoring any additional costs. Our marine and houseboat insurance provides comprehensive covers for all types of watercraft. We have expertise in houseboat insurance, and we’re pleased to be able to offer content for permanent houseboat residents. Whether you live on your boat full time or not, get a quote from us today and make sure you’re getting a good cover for good value.