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BIA offers safety reminder ahead of peak Australia Day boating period

by Kylie Edwards 25 Jan 2018 02:24 PST
BIA offers safety reminder ahead of peak Australia Day boating period © John Doughty

As thousands of Australians gear up to hit waterways this long weekend, the Boating Industry Association (BIA) has issued a national reminder to stay safe and follow the boating rules.

Government data from the last 10 years shows that January is the month with the highest number of recreational boating incidents, with a recorded 373 accidents in NSW alone.

"It's at times like Australia Day and across long weekends that Australians tend to take to the water in greater numbers. More than two million Australians have boat licences, and boats in the hands of the inexperienced, or those who are in need of a refresher on boating requirements, can cause accidents," said Howard Glenn, CEO of the BIA.

"If it's been a while since you took the test for your boating licence or would like to receive the next level of accreditation, our Advanced Skipper is worth taking."

The BIA hopes that its Advanced Skipper course – priced at $55 – will help to reduce human error in boating by providing drivers with greater knowledge and training on waterways, including advanced information such as boating at night, adverse weather conditions, offshore boating, boat ramp launching and state specific scenarios.

The Advanced Skipper online course has been designed by boating industry experts and features video scenarios that are set in different locations in each state including Sydney Harbour, the Gold Coast, Murray River and Rottnest – ensuring the course is relevant both nationally and locally.

"I was responsible for boating safety in the NSW Government for many years before joining the BIA, and also chaired the Australian Recreational Boating Safety Committee. During my time in government, I saw the need for a refresher course for boaters wanting to brush-up on their knowledge," added Howard Glenn.

"Most recreational boaters don't go out boating often enough – not as often as driving a car, for example – so their knowledge and skills need to be refreshed.

"Surf lifesaving and first aiders all have refresher courses, and so too should boaters. That's why we've developed Advanced Skipper, and made it online, so that boaters can take the course at home and refresh their knowledge at their own pace."

Advanced Skipper enables boat licence holders to refresh their boating knowledge and skills online in just 60-90 minutes, as well as accessing a range of insurance, product, service benefits and discounts from marine industry brands nationally.

The course re-creates common boating scenarios, allowing participants to experience and prepare for situations that often lead to boating incidents and accidents.

"The NSW Maritime study found that the majority of incidents are collision-related, followed by capsizing and grounding. And that poor judgement and human factors, which can be linked to lack of knowledge, are a significant contributing factor. It's very rare for an accident to occur because of faulty equipment; it's most likely to be human error or weather," said Howard Glenn.

The boats that make up the majority of accidents on the water include runabouts, with a majority 47.25 per cent share, followed by sailing vessels (8.8%) and cabin runabouts (7.2%).

"We know that more and more Australian's will be boating as they reach retirement age, and that the popularity of large cabin cruiser, wakeboarding and jet skiing will also continue to grow – also among younger demographics.

"Speed is a known contributor to accidents on waterways, so our course is also geared to expand the knowledge of young licence holders, who – like P-platers on roads - can be tempted to speed."

General boating safety tips from the BIA include:

  • Plan ahead and always let someone know where you're going, and when you expect to return
  • Have a marine radio on board to allow you to communicate when you're on the water
  • Ideally wear a lifejacket, or if you're not wearing one, ensure one is easily accessible and that everyone on-board knows where they are and how to put them on. Lifejackets should have the AS 1512 number to ensure that they meet specific criteria for performance and design according to Australian Standards. A collar to support the head of small children is important, as is a crotch strap.
  • Don't overload your vessel – be sure to never exceed the number of passengers your boat is authorised to carry.
  • If you are going more than two nautical miles offshore, check in with Marine Rescue or the Coast Guard, and ensure you have a digital Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and that it is registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
The Advanced Skipper course can be accessed online at advancedskipper.org.au

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