All around the Australian coast people love to take to the water, whether they own their own or rent boats when they need them. And private boat ownership is booming right now, with around 2.6 million families owning some form of vessel according to the marine consultancy Roy Morgan Research.
This is great news for plenty of reasons. It helps the economies of coastal communities, gives Aussies a chance to explore the country's stunning coastline, and lets them pursue recreational activities like ocean fishing, wildlife watching or water-skiing whenever they like. But boat owning does come with a risk of injury, and it makes sense to do everything you can to reduce that risk.
Prepare for boating season as thoroughly as possible
Poor preparation is one of the key reasons for marine accidents. As New South Wales' Centre for Maritime Safety reports, early season incidents are common and rising, at least in that state's waters.
This suggests that many boat owners launch themselves into holidays and fishing trips without properly preparing for the experience. For example, many boat owners choose to take their craft out without ensuring the boats are fully-functional. Instead of investing in a thorough outboard motor service, they can't wait to get out with their rod in hand. That's understandable, but it means that some technical issues can be overlooked.
From the water pump and electrical systems, through to fuel and gas tanks, boats have plenty of fragile systems on board which can malfunction. A professional outboard motor service should fix them up, letting you enjoy your craft as safely as possible.
Ensure your safety equipment is all present and correct
Along with servicing your vessel, it's also vital to make sure that you have certain onboard safety equipment. For example, if you intend to travel more than two nautical miles from shore, it's legally mandatory to carry an EPIRB (Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon).
When it comes to life jackets, requirements differ from state to state, but wherever you are you'll need at least one for every person on board. Always keep them stored in an accessible location, and make sure that kids wear them whenever they are on deck. Try to replace your jackets every couple of years too, just to be on the safe side.
Aside from safety equipment and servicing, common sense applies. Check the weather reports from the BOM, whether it's via radio or the web. Don't overreach the capabilities of your craft. And just stay aware. That way, you can enjoy safe sailing and amazing experiences anywhere on the Aussie coast.