5 tips to stay safe on the water at dusk and dawn
Boating has always been a popular pastime in Australia, and so it may not be surprising that boat ownership continues to rise. Recent reports confirm this rise with almost half a million more Australians owning a boat in 2016 than in 2012. And that number is expected to continue to rise.
This is good news for the boating industry and for the individuals who are spending more time doing what they love out on the open waters, whether fishing or just enjoying themselves for a weekend away.
Yet more boats on the water also further demonstrates the need for safety. While it's true that new boaters are required to be licensed (at least general boat licenses are required for powered vessels that travel 10 knots or faster) as well as learn the standard safety regulations, there are still many common-sense aspects to driving a boat. Many of these come with experience, and one to watch out for in particular, which presents a major concern for boaters, is fog.
Here are a few tips to stay safe on the water when boating at dusk and dawn:
1. Keep an eye on your speed
Even in places where there are posted limits or where you are familiar with the area, maintaining a slower speed is always a good move. In bad light conditions there is no reason not to give yourself an ample amount of reaction time in the event something surprises you ahead.
2. Make your presence known
Being out on the water at dusk or dawn doesn't only pose potential dangers for you and your passengers, but for others on the water as well. It's crucial to sound fog signals at the specified time intervals, or even more frequently depending on the situation. Also, it's important to note that your horn isn't only for other boaters to know where you are, but to help you identify your own location as well. For example, if there is very little visibility, the echo of your fog horn can help orient you to the direction of land.
3. Stop and listen
Sounds can be deceiving on open water even in clear conditions, but the ability to see helps correct that. If you are on the water at dusk or dawn, it can be unclear where sounds are coming from. Whether it's an engine noise of another boat, water splashing against a buoy in the water nearby, or some other noise, just pause for a moment and listen before making a presumption about its direction or distance.
4. Remind your passengers (and yourself) of general boating rules
There is no bad time for a refresher of boating guidelines, but reacclimating yourself in bad light conditions is a good idea. The NSW Boating Handbook is a good tool to have on hand, and will provide some important reminders and safety tips. And as a quick refresher, the Interstate Boating Rules pamphlet is an easily digestible bit of info that will serve as a good reminder for you and your passengers. Even though you know the rules, putting yourself in the proper mindset will ensure you operate your vessel more carefully in these conditions.
5. Check your lights
This is a step that should be done before even taking your vessel out. The NSW Boating Handbook has a checklist for boaters to follow to make sure their navigation lights are visible and reliable. While some of these points might seem like common sense (such as turning off the cabin light to ensure maximum visibility while operating the vessel) they are worth going over before setting out at dusk or dawn.
Boating is a fun pastime, which is why its popularity continues to grow. By following the rules and paying attention to behaviours that keep you and your passengers safe, you can enjoy your boat even when the weather is not quite on your side.
If you're in need of updating some of your boating accessories, such as lighting options, to make sure your boat is as safe as can be, take a look at some of our online store offerings. You can also contact us directly with questions or additional advice.