17 January 2023

NSW Maritime launch first statewide safety blitz of 2023

| James Day
Start the conversation
NSW Maritime Officers patrolling on jet skis.

NSW Maritime officers patrolling jet skis during this past weekend’s safety campaign ‘Operation Ride Smart’. Photo: Supplied.

NSW Maritime has launched its first statewide waterway safety campaign of 2023, issuing 78 fines and 236 official warnings after inspecting 2200 vessels.

Operation Ride Smart’s focus was on personal watercraft (PWC) users, especially jet skis, as they are “heavily overrepresented in serious boating incidents” according to Acting NSW Maritime Executive Director Hendrik Clasie.

Although the boating season started on 1 October there is still more than a month left of summer, which will see more safety campaigns like last weekend’s operation.

Director of NSW Maritime South Deon Voyer told Region there were 80 maritime officers across NSW and 17 in the South Coast area working to ensure public safety on the water during this peak period of summer.

The two biggest offences across NSW and within the South Coast region were licensing and registration breaches, along with not wearing or carrying a suitable lifejacket.

While South Coast boaters are, according to Voyer, “very well behaved”, many users are coming from the ACT, Victoria and South Australia who are often not familiar with local boating regulations.

Mr Voyer recommends those coming to the region for boating read up on the area’s regulations and the NSW Government PWC Handbook and keep updated through traditional and social media platforms on any warnings.

READ ALSO Boating authorities crack down on lifejackets and speeding

NSW Transport statistics on the operation’s activities in the South Coast prove Mr Voyer’s high praise of the region true, with a total compliance rate of 87 per cent, only 10 penalty notices issued, and none of them for PWC operators. However, Mr Clasie says the public “needs to be aware they [waterways] are in a different condition following months of severe rainfall and flooding”.

“We’re seeing more debris and unseen hazards, including entire trees.”

Since the beginning of the season, NSW has had “more than 120 incidents including a boat fire, boats capsizing, collisions and multiple water rescues where serious injuries were reported. Tragically, there have also been four boating-related fatalities.”

While the majority of the NSW South Coast is open to boating and has recovered from the flooding, Mr Voyer notes that some sections of the Murray and Darling River are still affected, especially the lower areas due to this time of year’s unpredictable weather.

Over the past two years there has been a surge in the popularity of jet skis, which means more new and inexperienced riders are out on the water. According to NSW Maritime, the state now has 82,000 licensed PWC riders and around 20,000 personal watercraft registered. With about one in four license holders owning a jet ski, Mr Voyer sees a direct connection to the knowledge and skill gap already on display this summer.

“One of the quirks with a jet ski is that they don’t steer when they’re not under power, as they are only propelled by a jet of water. Some of the unfortunate incidents we see where people collide with a bank, tree, or even another vessel, is because the operator has taken the power off the throttle and it just keeps going straight ahead.”

READ ALSO The best places to make a splash with your PWC

Mr Voyer asks those on jet skis and other PWC to be a positive advocate for them, by keeping in mind how their actions affect the perception of other users of those crafts and where a suitable space for these activities is. One of the more recent popular PWC’s being used by the public is a motor-powered hydrofoil board, which operates through a propeller that the rider controls while standing. This type of craft is subject to NSW regulations and may require registration if they meet a certain threshold.

Reflecting on the weekend’s operation Mr Clasie stated: “We want all riders to remember the three C’s – care, courtesy and common sense, especially when there are swimmers, surfers or paddleboarders around.”

For further information on the use of PWC’s in NSW please refer to the State Government’s handbook. You can find out the requirements for registering a motor-powered hydrofoil board here, and rules on using them in NSW here.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.