Booze cruise crews

The slogan “Alcohol and water don’t mix” is a catch phrase used by Roads and Maritime Services to educate boaters about the dangers of combining alcohol with boating. The following incidents strengthen this message as some of these resulted in death.


  • Three men enjoyed a day’s fishing and some beers on the river in their 3.5m runabout. On their way back to the boat ramp, a bit of good natured skylarking resulted in the vessel capsizing. An elderly man drowned in an attempt to swim the short distance to shore.
  • Three men spent the day and early evening fishing and drinking aboard their 4 metre runabout in the bay. Conditions were reasonably calm. Sometime later in the evening, while en-route to another location, for no apparent reason one passenger stood up and the vessel capsized. Two men swam to a nearby island. The body of the third man was recovered several days later.
  • Dad took his family out for the day aboard his vessel, a Riviera cruiser, and stopped at a popular pub for a liquid lunch. On the return journey in the late afternoon, he steered the vessel on the wrong side of a channel marker and the vessel ran aground high and dry on the rocky reef. The vessel sustained significant damage and a complex salvage operation was required to remove it. Fortunately no one was injured, but this incident gave the man a criminal record, a fine for the offence and the expense of paying for the salvage and repair of the vessel.

Lessons learned

  1. When afloat, your coordination, judgement, vision, balance and reaction time can decline at up to three times faster when consuming alcohol. It is the boating environment, waves, motion, engine noise, weather, wind and spray, that can multiply the effects of alcohol.
  2. All people onboard need to take care because studies have shown that boat passengers are just as likely as operators to be involved in incidents such as capsizing the vessel or falling overboard as a result of drinking alcohol.
  3. In Australia and New Zealand, alcohol has been involved in one third of all boating fatalities.
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