HOLIDAY SAFETY: BE PREPARED ON THE WATER
Witnessing an ever increasing number of visitors to our beautiful waterways with boats, jetskis, kayaks and of course on foot – it has also become evident that some people are not fully prepared for the conditions the Sunshine Coast dishes up on the weather platter each throughout Summer! In any one day we can be served an early morning snack of mild wind, little swell and a gorgeous sunrise with not a cloud in the ski....then in less than a few hours we can get a main course of lunchtime gale force winds and swell that surfers can gorge themselves on. Afternoon tea could be a freak thunderstorm heated and supper will likely be a beautiful sunset, rainbow and light sea-breeze making a mockery of your stories of killer wind from earlier in the day. So – are you prepared for Queensland’s idyllic summer weather?
To better prepare for the upcoming summer weather conditions, I have made a list of things I do to maximise safety when boating and fishing, which in turn gives me greater piece of mind so I may enjoy the experience more!
1. BE WEATHER-WISE
Most importantly - check local weather conditions for boating safety the day before and on the morning or afternoon you head out. Poor weather can ruin a beach, river or reef trip, so it is often better to reschedule than push on and brave it. Keep in mind that wind can also change at an instant so keep an awareness of strength and direction when out also. A sudden drop in temperature and darkening sky is a telltale sign that a storm is on the way.
2. FOLLOW A PRE-DEPARTURE CHECKLIST
Be prepared for any possibility on the water such as freak storm, running out of fuel, collision or even getting lost! I ask myself the following questions prior to departure:
· Have I checked the weather?
· Checked the boat/jetski is in full working condition.
· Do I have enough fuel for the round trip, plus some up my sleeve in case?
· Do I have sufficient water and food for the return trip?
· Is all the appropriate safety equipment onboard and in working order (oars, rope, radio, epirb, fire extinguisher, lifejackets etc)?
· Have I instructed my passengers on my safety equipment?
· Have I advised a reliable person of my boating plan? Include where you are going and when you plan to be back as well as the number of passengers on board (in case of emergency).
Some of the following safety equipment is required by law - you should check the laws with your local Coast Guard.
3. DESIGNATE A BACKUP DRIVER
Make sure more than one person on board is familiar with all aspects of your boat’s handling and safe operation. If the primary driver is injured or incapacitated in any way, it’s important to make sure someone else can follow the proper boating safety rules to get everyone else back to shore.
4. USE OF LIFEJACKETS APPROPRIATELY
The number of boaties and jet skiers who get booked each holiday season for having lifejackets onboard but forget to actually wear them is pretty high. Make sure you have a lifejacket to suit the type of water you are boating on. You need a PFD type 1. The flotation collar is bigger on this jacket and keeps the head above water. This is for use in smooth, partially smooth and open waters. Suitable for offshore boating. PFD type 2 keeps you afloat but does not have a collar to keep the head above water making it only suitable in rivers and dams - smooth and partially smooth waters. It is compulsory to wear a life jacket in Queensland when crossing a coastal bar in an open boat that is less than 4.8 m in length and if you are under the age of 12 in an open boat, while it is under way.
5. SOBER BOATING
According to the Maritime Safety, one third of all boating fatalities involve alcohol. The blood alcohol limit on the water is the same as on the roads, meaning the driver must have a blood alcohol limit of less than 0.05, the same rules as on the road. The effects of alcohol are enhanced while on the water due to the sun, wind, waves and constant motion. Reflexes and response times to emergencies are slowed and swimming ability deteriorates considerably. Keep in mind if you are anchored or moored and aboard the craft consuming alcohol, the blood alcohol limit applies.
6. CHILDREN'S SAFETY
Children are not aware of rules, regulations and commonsense while on the water. So it is up to their parents and guardians to have an awareness of where they are and what they are doing while on the bank, in the boat or if swimming in the water surrounding the boat. All children under 12 years must wear a lifejacket if travelling in an open boat, so hire or buy a good Lifejacket or life vest with a collar that turns a child face up in the water. It must have strong waist and crotch straps, a handle on the collar, and preferably be a bright yellow or orange colour for good visibility.
Attach a plastic safety whistle to the Lifejacket and teach the child how to use the whistle - and practice using it. Additionally, ensure that children thoroughly understand safety procedures and can respond appropriately in an emergency. Practice safety drills and situation role-plays so that emergency procedures become second nature to you and your children.
Children must also be kept within the bounds of the vessel and should never sit with their legs or arms dangling over the sides of a boat that is underway. People have allowed children to hand off the side of their boat, ride on a donut or inflatable ring behind the boat or hang off the transom while in slow forwards motion. Children can be very unpredictable and this does not change simply if you have instructed them to stay away from the propeller. So be very conscious of children near the propeller not only for the deadly chances of getting run over.
LOCAL FISHING REPORT
Noosa: Spanish and spotty mackerel from Little Halls and jew shoal. Whiting and flathead in the frying pan. Mangrove jack in Weyba Creek, woods bay and in Noosa Sound. Trevally around Munna bridge and Woods bay. Jacks, flathead and bream between the lakes. A few whiting from Munna Point.
Maroochydore: School and spotty mackerel on hard bodied lures and trolled gar. Elbow slapper whiting off the beach at Mudjimba. Bream and flathead above bli bli bridge. Whiting 23-30cm along bli bli flats. Mud crabs throughout the top end of the river. .
Mooloolaba: A 25.5kg Spanish mackerel was taken on trolled bait with a squid skirt out off Mooloolaba yesterday morning. Sand crabs in the lower mooloolah on the making tide. Grunter, jacks and flathead above bli bli bridge. Jacks under McKenzies bridge and in the Kawana canal. Whiting in the sand basin over night. Golden trevally and bream along La Balsa wall.
Caloundra: School and spotty mackerel off Brays Rock and a few Spanish to 8kg on the 5 mile. Elbow slapper whiting and dart along Currimundi. Whiting between the bar and Bells. Jacks up to 2.7kg in Coochin Creek on live bait and lure. Flathead between Bells and Coochin on trolled hard bodied lures.
The Spaniards were in excellent numbers offshore of Noosa and Mooloolaba. Mark Arnall trolled up this 7kg
specimen at Jew Shoal, just one of many boated around Noosa this week (supplied by www.fishingnoosa.com.au).
The humid weather in between showers had the mangrove jacks on the move in the rivers. John Hope from
Cooroy got this 2kg 'Jack' at the Munna Point Bridge (supplied by www.fishingnoosa.com.au).
Greg Heathwood was fishing from the Cane Bridge above Coolum Creek before the rain on Sunday when he
nailed this 2.43kg jack on a pilchard.
There are a lot of smaller dusky flathead in the rivers at the moment.
Ryan fished aboard anglers advantage above bli bli bridge for this 44cm specimen.