NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers will be out in force this weekend on NSW waterways to conduct Operation Paddle Safe.
Trevor Williams, Acting General Manager Maritime Operations, said the campaign aimed to educate canoe and kayak paddlers on boating safety and remind them of new lifejacket requirements.
'Canoes and kayaks are classified as vessels and must comply with NSW legislation,' Mr Williams said. 'Paddle craft are very portable and can be used in diverse areas – from busy harbours through to remote inland waterways.
They sit low in the water, making it difficult for skippers of other vessels to see them in some situations. People on paddle craft should take care when near other vessels and when crossing channels. It is important to be clearly visible at all times on the water.'
Mr Williams said conflict between canoes or kayaks and power vessels was a possibility when the available water was restricted, particularly in busy waterways such as Sydney Harbour. 'This is why, if you’re a paddler, it is crucial to always put your safety first,' Mr Williams said.
'If you intend paddling to remote areas, tell someone where you are going and when you intend to return. Between sunset and sunrise, a torch is a minimum requirement, but it is strongly recommended that the craft has all-round white light visible in every direction.'
According to industry estimates there are more than 54,000 canoe and kayak paddlers in NSW and NSW Maritime recommends paddlers take the following precautions:
· Wear highly visible clothing;
· paddle in tight formation;
· stay close to the shore line;
· keep to the starboard side of the channel,
· do not cross close ahead of larger vessels; and
· paddle during daylight hours or adhere to light requirements.
Lifejacket legislation requires paddlers to wear a lifejacket in the following circumstances:
· on enclosed waters more than 100m from shore (*Type 1, **2 or ***3);
· on open waters at all times (1, 2 or 3)
· on alpine waters at all times (1 or 2). Operation Paddle Safe will continue until Sunday, 6 November
. *Type 1 lifejacket - has a collar designed to keep the wearer’s head above the surface of the water and manufactured in highly visible colours;
**Type 2 lifejacket – no collar, designed more for active sports, in highly visible colours;
***Type 3 lifejacket – almost identical to a type 2 but in fashion rather than highly visible colours.