21 December 2020

Boating authorities crack down on lifejackets and speeding

| Hannah Sparks
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Young girl wearing a lifejacket and sunglasses on a boat.

Children under the age of 12 must wear a lifejacket in both enclosed and open waters. Photo: Emeric Deroubaix.

Boating authorities are cracking down on waterways speeding, drink-driving and people not wearing lifejackets in southern NSW this summer.

NSW Maritime boating education officer for Monaro, Richard Hanly, said seven out of 10 people who drown while boating are not wearing a lifejacket.

The rules state that anyone onboard a vessel under 4.8 metres must wear a lifejacket at all times in alpine waters, which includes Lake Burrinjuck in the Yass Valley, Lake Jindabyne and Lake Eucumbene in the Snowy Mountains, Pejar Dam near Goulburn, and Googong Dam near Queanbeyan.

“These are areas that are higher in altitude, have colder water temperatures and are at a greater risk of weather changes,” said Mr Hanly.

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Children under the age of 12 must also wear a lifejacket when onboard a vessel under 4.8 metres in both enclosed and open waters.

“If you’re not wearing a lifejacket, it can’t save your life,” said Mr Hanly.

It is a skipper’s responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone on their boat, which includes ensuring everyone is wearing a lifejacket. The fine for not wearing a lifejacket is $250.

The NSW Police Marine Area Command issued 60 infringements and 24 warnings to people speeding, drink-driving and not wearing a lifejacket during a proactive police operation on waterways in the state’s south during the first weekend of December.

During the two-day operation, more than 100 officers and 54 police boats were deployed to waterways including in the Shoalhaven, Kiama, Eden, Bermagui and Merimbula regions.

NSW Police Marine Area Commander Superintendent Joseph McNulty said police will continue to be out in force during the summer period, with operations targeting rule breaking.

“We have some of the most picturesque waterways in the country, which also means they see a significant increase in recreational activity during warmer months, meaning more boating incidents and water-related injuries and fatalities,” said Superintendent McNulty.

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“Large-scale operations such as this are necessary during the warmer months to ensure community safety on our waterways by targeting dangerous and antisocial behaviour. To those with personal watercrafts, take this as your warning: we won’t tolerate unsafe and dangerous behaviour. We will have our sights set on you.”

After a prolonged dry period during the drought, Burrinjuck Waters Holiday Park proprietors Liz and Don Richardson are looking forward to a busy holiday season.

Liz said the park’s cabins are already booked out for the New Year period.

However, both are well aware of how dangerous the lake can be with the temperature dropping to as low as three degrees on its surface in winter.

Mr Richardson has been at the park for 53 years and said many people have drowned in the lake.

“The regular boaters tend to know the rules, but it’s the casual boaters, who usually go to the coast or out on non-alpine waters, who don’t understand,” he said.

“Regardless of the rules, if you go out in a boat, you should wear a lifejacket. There are jackets out there now that aren’t cumbersome; many are vests and self- or manual-inflating.”

Keep an eye out for rules on display on boat ramps and launch points.

Boating maps for all NSW waterways are available on NSW Maritime’s website.

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Cameron Hine10:52 pm 28 Dec 20

I would like to personally thank Richard Hanley, a boating education officer from the Monaro, deployed to the south coast. Today my son fell from Wollamia warf near Huskisson, on currambene creek. He sustained several deep lacerations from the oyster bed below. Richard was polite, friendly, and very helpful, by providing a first aid kit. I took my boy to the local emergency department, where he received great care, including 24 stitches.Please pass my appreciation on to Richard, thanks.

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