Avoiding Boating Accidents

Table of contents

How to Avoid Becoming Involved in a Boating Accident

Master’s Responsibility

    It’s vitally important to remember that as the Master you hold the safety and wellbeing of not only the people on your boat but also those who may be in the water or on other watercraft. As the Master you must ensure you know or have an understanding of:

    • the area you will be going boating;
    • the prevailing and forecast weather conditions;
    • how much fuel is required and that you have enough including reserves;
    • how to use all safety equipment and appliances;
    • how to load your boat to ensure safe stability and trim;
    • what to do in the event of you are involved in a boating accident.

    Remember: If you’re the Master you’re responsible!

    Failing to keep a proper lookout

    This is one of the biggest factors in boating accidents, you can become distracted so easily when you’re going along enjoying the day and the company. You’re interacting with those onboard and turn around to suddenly see another boat in front of you!

    It may not be a boat but a person in the water, a navigational aid or even debris. To avoid being in an accident you MUST keep a proper lookout at all times, this means not only looking ahead but also remaining aware of what’s around you at all times.


    Alcohol and/or Drugs

    Alcohol is another big factor in many boating accidents! If you’re the Master remember to stay within the legal limit of 0.05 or better still don’t drink alcohol until your boating activities are over!


    Not knowing or complying with navigational requirements

    Unfortunately, it’s a common problem that even if you do have a Recreational Marine Licence, you may not know or remember some navigational markers, beacons or other navigational aids. One of the problems is that many boat operators either fail to observe the navigational requirements which can lead to serious accidents so, please observe them!


    Failure to observe speed limits or other navigational aids

    Failure to observe speed limits and no-wash zones is a problem. Yes, we know they can be irritating but they are in place for a reason so observe them!


    Failure of mechanical items

    Failure of mechanical items such as motors and in lesser cases gearboxes in larger boats or outboards in smaller boats has resulted in many boating accidents.


    Responsible Boat Operation

    By simply operating a boat responsibly, one can avoid so many scenarios that could lead to a boating tragedy. For example, there are many instances where an individual goes overboard due to drug/alcohol abuse, driving a boat irresponsibly, or another passenger being irresponsible.

    If the vessel’s Master understands how to operate the vessel responsibly, is knowledgeable of vessel safety, and understands how to keep themselves and their passengers safe, most trauma and tragedy can be avoided.

    Small details such as speed limits in no-wake zones, checking weather reports before boating, sharing safety tips with passengers, and making sure your vessel is suited to go out on the water are all helpful when it comes to being out on the water and help prevent you from having to call for help.

    Useful links

    QLD:    https://www.msq.qld.gov.au/Safety

    NSW:    https://www.nsw.gov.au/driving-boating-and-transport/waterways-safety-and-rules/rules

    VIC:      https://transportsafety.vic.gov.au/maritime-safety/recreational-boating

    Shorlink’s Recommendation

    Our recommendations are simple and should be common sense but…

    Number one recommendation is to always make sure your engine or engines are in good operational order and serviced regularly.

    Secondly maintaining a lookout at all times while underway is imperative not only for your safety but the safety of all persons onboard and other waterway users. Keeping a proper lookout means not only looking forward but also what’s coming up astern and abeam of you!


    A great tip, and one that should have been taken by a boat owner recently is when at anchor, always keep a lookout because you never know what can happen. Recently, a boat was at anchor at night when another vessel collided with it midship causing significant damage.

    If the anchored vessel had a person on watch this incident could have been avoided. Another way is if you have a radar is to set the proximity alarm, not as good as human eyes but better than nothing!

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