Countless missing navigation markers and debris in water

10 February 2020

Boaters across NSW are being warned to be on high alert for navigation hazards with significant debris and missing navigation markers after the weekend’s rain.

NSW Maritime Executive Director Mark Hutchings said the boating conditions are potentially so unsafe in many areas, it would be advisable to delay boating until flood waters have subsided and the clean up of waterways has taken place.

“Up and down the coast there is a significant amount of debris in the water and this is particularly dangerous when it is submerged or semi-submerged as it is impossible to know it is there,” Mr Hutchings said.

“An entire jetty structure was hauled out of the water and from the paths of nearby ferries just off Kirribilli Point earlier today by our Environmental Services team.

“There is a salvage under way for a 13 metre cruiser after it overturned in the surf conditions experienced at Balmoral Beach yesterday.

“In Camden Haven, a starboard lateral mark which indicates where it is safe to navigate, has been dislodged and found in the surf zone at North Haven Beach, several kilometres away.”

Mr Hutchings said the system of buoys, poles and lights helps boaters with safe navigation and guides boating traffic on NSW waterways.

“Without these navigation markers in place, there is the potential for vessels to run aground or get into difficulty while navigating.

“There are literally hundreds of navigation markers up and down the NSW coast which have been swept ‘off station’ due to a combination of increased water levels, the speed of the water flow, and the volume of debris building up in the water.”

Mr Hutchings said in the past 24 hours NSW Maritime has received a number of reports of vessels breaking their moorings, navigational markers moving from their original positions and debris from bushfires and oyster farms in the water.

“While NSW Maritime works year-round to maintain the thousands of navigation markers in NSW, the work generated after flooding in Sydney and on the north and south coasts is significant.

“Several navigational markers have moved up and down the coast with Boating Safety Officers predicting it may take weeks to complete a full audit of what is missing, order new infrastructure and then have it installed.”

“Boaters in the Alpine and inland areas should exercise caution due to heavy rainfall which can change water levels in reservoirs.”

Boaters should also be aware there are currently higher than usual tides which can add to the difficult conditions currently observed on the water.  Additionally, the NSW east coast is expecting winds and rain to increase from mid-week onwards.”

Reports of navigation markers out of their original location, or vessels washed up on beaches or rocks are appreciated and can be made on 131 236.

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