Operation Blue Water: Wash Up

24 February 2012

The Brunswick River coastal bar came under the spotlight during Operation Blue Water with three bar crossing incidents occurring during the nine-day campaign.

Roads and Maritime Services Acting General Manager Maritime Operations Trevor Williams said Operation Blue Water, focusing on offshore boating safety, finished at dusk on Sunday after kicking off on 11 February. It saw 1593 on-water safety checks conducted by Maritime Boating Safety Officers.

A total of 79 penalty notices or fines were issued, along with 87 formal warnings.

There was an average compliance rate of 89.8 per cent across all coastal regions.

Mr Williams said most of the fines related to insufficient carriage of required safety equipment, which included items such as torches, sound signals, fire extinguishers and lifejackets.

“All up there were 37 penalty notices issued for safety equipment breaches, followed by 17 for speed,” Mr Williams said.

There were three incidents on the Brunswick River bar during this period - all on the first Sunday of the campaign.

“One vessel capsized on the bar, the skipper of another vessel fell overboard while unsuccessfully attempting to cross the bar and a commercial vessel with seven on board sustained structural damage while crossing the bar,” Mr Williams said.

“It is crucial to check the conditions before attempting to cross a coastal bar. If in doubt, don’t go out, and remember that the safest time to cross is on an incoming tide.”

“However, I’m pleased to report that in all three incidents, all on board were complying with the law and wearing lifejackets,” he said.

During the campaign in the Hawkesbury River/ Broken Bay area, there were 17 occasions in which BSO inspected vessels and found the amount of safety equipment to be insufficient. The skippers of these vessels were issued with formal warnings and directed to head inshore.

“Meanwhile, in Sydney, four skippers of boats less than 4.8m long were given directions to either put on a lifejacket or move inshore,” Mr Williams said.

Anyone in a vessel less than 4.8m must wear a lifejacket when:

  • On open waters, or boating offshore;
  • Being towed;
  • On alpine waters
  • Boating at night
  • Boating alone
  • Directed to do so by the master of the vessel

For more information on when to wear a lifejacket in NSW waters, go to http://www.lifejacketwearit.com.au

Maritime’s Operation Blue Water offshore boating safety campaign resulted in the following:

  • North Coast – 19 penalty notices issued, 200 vessels checked;
  • Hunter Inland –  17 penalty notices issued, 290 vessels checked;
  • Hawkesbury River/ Broken Bay – 8 penalty notices issued, 280 vessels checked;
  • Sydney – 21 penalty notices issued, 510 vessels checked;
  • South Coast – 14 penalty notices issued, 313 vessels checked;
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