In this 50th anniversary edition of ‘The Angler’ Col takes us through how to best plan for a boating trip on the water. There are a lot of very important things to consider to ensure you’re prepared and safe!

Colin Hinder: Bayside Boat and Jetski Licensing.

We should always plan our days boating activities, even for the smallest trips around the glorious Moreton Bay. Know your destination!

Try to get into the habit of pre-departure checks at home either the night before or the morning of.

Some of the basic checks may include:

  • ENGINE CHECK – Connect the earmuffs, start the motor, make sure it will start and is running okay. Identify that your impeller is working correctly. This is indicated from the tell tail pumping water from the engine (the squirt coming from the motor). If your tell tail does have a solid stream within 30 seconds you may overheat the motor. This could be caused from a faulty impellor or it’s worn out and needs replacing. Maybe the tell tail whole is blocked by a mud wasp nest. Time to investigate! Also check any fluids and general condition of your motor including battery condition and connections. Also throttle and steering cables.
  • ELECTRONICS – Make sure that all electronics and navigation lights if fitted are all in good working condition. If you have a marine radio on board a simple radio check. Maybe have spare fuses on board for any of these items. Check bilge pump if fitted.
  • SAFETY EQUIPMENT – Be sure that all your safety has been located in the boat, as you may have removed some items last trip for wash down. Make sure that you are aware of the requirements by legislation for the safety equipment to be carried on board for your travel and destination. Have a procedure or system in place that you are regularly checking the condition and the expiry dates of any equipment. We like to recommend that you try to place all safety on the boat in what we call a grab bag, this is to be placed in an easily accessible area of the boat with nothing stowed on top of it. In case of an emergency you can access quite easily and take it with you if you are required to abandon ship. Make sure you are familiar in the methods of the use of  all your safety gear. Life Jackets are serviceable and the correct type for the trip and suitable for your passengers- fit correctly and suitable weight rating.
  • WEATHER & TIDES – There are many options for checking the weather, the wind is what will affect your day the most. Know you and your boats limits. Checking the BOM (bureau of meteorology) for wind strengths and its direction and any possible changes. Other pages that can be used like Seabreeze, Willyweather, Windguru or wind predict are all handy and accessible from your smartphone and will vary between. Look at the tides you will encounter for the day, knowing changes and the range of the tides. Have a contingency plan for sheltered waters. If launching or retrieving your boat at the bottom of the tide, get some local knowledge of that ramp prior to use.
  • FUEL – Check all levels, top up of required. Making sure you have enough for the journey you wish to undertake, safe boating is to have 1/3 in reserve at the end of the day. Always calculate the worst case, as strong wind or currents will effect the consumption. If carrying spare fuel use only approved containers, if you have portable tanks? Why not purchase a spare tank to eliminate any spillage. Fuel should be fresh, don not use stale or contaminated fuel.

  • HULL & TRAILER– Complete a visual inspection of your hull  and trailer and its condition, making sure there is no identified hazards. Make sure you bung plugs are either secured in the boat or you have available.  Be sure to double check prior to launching. It is recommended to carry spares. Check trailer lights and make sure your boat is restrained to the trailer using an appropriate strap and any loose items in the boat are stowed correctly.
  • SUPPLIES – Ensure you have suitable clothing for the trip and also enough fresh drinking water and food for the day with extra just in case.
  • NAVIGATION – Know exactly where you plan on going, how long it will take to get there and get back. Look prior to leaving with what you will be dealing with and the direction of buoyage for your trip. If you have GPS try leaving tracks for your journeys, marking any hazards you may encounter. The booklet the ‘Guides to the Beacon to Beacon’ is a great publication like a street directory that can be used to navigate your trip. We can also download an APP for the smartphone called “ Navionics “ to turn your phone into a marine GPS.
  • STABILITY – Overloading your boat is dangerous, Stow any loose items whilst travelling to avoid injury and any sudden weight change in your boat. Check your Builders plate for information on max capacity.
  • BEFORE YOU GO – Get into the habit of telling people where you are going for the day, this may include the ramp you are leaving from, your planned direction and destination, a description of your boat, your time of return, how many people are on board and a contact number or type of radio on board. The easy way is to use your local Volunteer Marine Rescue or Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, it’s a free service to log on with them, they will prompt the questions. If people do not know where you are and something happens how do you expect them to help or find you? Just as important is if you log on – you must log off on your safe return.
  • SAFETY BRIEF – For any new passengers on your boat it is crucial to give them a safety brief, showing where your safety items are on board and how to use them, The whereabouts to where the life jackets are stowed, remember if they are not 100% visible we need to label their whereabouts with a red / white life jacket sticker. A life jacket demonstration is also import. This is your duty of care as the responsible skipper. Have you ever tried putting a life jacket on in the water in the dark? A recommendation is that if you are by yourself in the boat wear a life jacket, if something happens there is no one there to help you immediately.
  • IF YOU REQUIRE HELP ON THE WATER – it is highly recommend that we should join your local marine rescue organisation, this is a small fee to be paid for a peace of mind, just in case you may have a incident. Take the time to have a chat to them about becoming a member and getting information such as what radio channels are monitored in your area of operation and contact details.