Stay safe on the water

Being an island state, many Tasmanians love getting out and about on the water, especially during summer. However, with our unpredictable weather conditions and changing waterways, it is important to ensure you, your family and friends are safe.

Photo courtesy of Marine and Safety Tasmania

Two people drowned in Tasmanian waters last year. Since life jackets became compulsory in the state in January 2001 to June this year, there have been 33 drownings, about two per year. This is a dramatic decrease from the average of more than six per year prior to 2001.

​"There is little doubt the wearing of life jackets has had a significant effect [to reduce drownings]," MAST General Manager of Recreational Boating and Safety Peter Hopkins said.

 "Also the safety culture with the boating public is greatly improved and other things such as better access to weather forecasts and better boat design has also helped with fatalities."  Mr Hopkins said, with the highest rate of boat ownership in the country, it was vital Tasmanian boaties remained vigilant both on and off the water.

​"A big issue is the non-servicing of inflatable life jackets," he said."We are now seeing fatalities occurring due to poorly maintained inflatable life jackets. The Coroner has warned in separate reports that people must maintain their inflatables."  

MAST recommends the following for a safe summer:

  • Know the area in which you are boating and seek local knowledge.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
  • Know the limitations of your boat.
  • Know your own limitations – if you're in any doubt, come in to land.
  • Carry the right safety gear and know how to use it.
  • Don't commit yourself to the trip – cancel if the weather is bad.
  • Know the load limit of your boat and don't exceed it.
  • Carry some spare fuel and basic spare parts.
  • Wear a life jacket at all times on boats 6m and under.
  • Keep an eye on the kids and put them in a life jacket at the boat ramp.
  • Alcohol and boating don't mix.

For boat owners, proper maintenance of the vessel and gear is important. MAST provides a comprehensive checklist at to help owners keep track of this. MAST also recommends owners copy and enlarge the outline of the boat, write on it the location of your safety and other gear, then laminate it and mount it on the bulkhead as a reminder to all on board of the location of important safety gear and other mechanisms on the boat.

Marine safety checklist

  • Do you hold a current licence?
  • Has the latest weather forecast been checked?
  • Has the tide been checked to ensure the ramp is suitable?
  • Have the vessel and safety equipment been checked?
  • Is there enough fuel for the trip (and reserve)?
  • Is there sufficient food, water and a first aid kit?
  • Have you informed someone of your departure and estimated return?
  • Are you familiar with the area you intend going, or have you sought local knowledge?
  • Are all passengers familiar with the safety equipment?

Remember – watch the weather and think of you, your passengers and your boat's safety at all times.

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