Local and visiting boaters at Narooma and the Far South Coast may have noticed the increased presence of Road and Maritime Services boating safety officers on the water over the long weekend.
A special sign warning boaters of the safety campaign and reminding them to grab their safety gear was even placed on the Narooma Flat at the entrance to town.
Narooma boating safety officer Shane Murtagh said he was pleased with the behaviour of boaties he checked with a greater than 90 per cent compliance rate of having the required safety gear and driving their vessels responsibly.
Mr Murtagh added that he would continue to be out on the water in the new Narooma-based RMS patrol vessel over the rest of the busy summer boating season.
Roads and Maritime Services maritime executive director Angus Mitchell said ‘Operation Boatsafe: Expect To Get Checked’ ended successfully on Tuesday, with more than 90 per cent of boaters using the waterways safely this long weekend.
Mr Mitchell said the three-day operation, which coincided with the start of the boating season, focused on boater safety including lifejacket compliance, wash and towing, navigating safely and the laws relating to personal watercraft behaviour and alcohol consumption while operating a boat.
“Throughout the long weekend, Boating Safety Officers and Boating Education Officers around the state met with boaters on the water, at clubs and at boat launching sites such as boat ramps to help reinforce essential safe boating knowledge and ensure compliance with safety rules,” Mr Mitchell said.
“BSOs patrolled coast and inland waterways in the Far and Mid North coasts, Hunter and Port Stephens, Hawkesbury River, Botany Bay/Georges River South Coast and Murray River regions.
“Despite the weather with strong winds there were plenty of boats out on the water. 2,015 random vessel safety checks were carried out at key waterway locations across the state resulting in 118 Penalty Notices and 112 Formal warnings issued.
“These results highlight more than 93 per cent of boats inspected are operating safely and in good working order.
“We want people to have fun out on the water but frustratingly there are still people risking their safety and the safety of others by flouting the rules such as failing to wear lifejackets.
“This weekend we had three separate vessel capsizes incidents, including an incident at dawn on Sunday morning just off Evans Head.
“The vessel couldn’t be recovered but fortunately two males on board who were wearing life jackets were recovered without injury.
“In an incident on Monday, an inflatable kayak was found off Jervis Bay. Following a search by Roads and Maritime and a rescue helicopter, a man was found to have made his way to shore and was not wearing a lifejacket.
“It just highlights how imperative it is to make sure all boaters have the proper safety measures in place to make sure they are prepared for the unexpected.
“This means skippers making sure their vessel has all the required safety equipment on board, including life jackets, flares, distress beacons and proper navigational lights.
“In addition to safety checks, Roads and Maritime Boating Officers worked with the Water Police to carry out Random Breath tests as part of a joint patrol.
Of the 71 random breath tests conducted, one returned positive.
Operation Boatsafe is the first of six high visibility operations which will be carried out in the coming weeks targeting safety, compliance and education in waterway locations across the state
Boaters are thanked for their patience while this important operation was carried out.
For more information on skipper responsibilities and boating safety visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au/maritime or www.lifejacketwearit.com.au