Marine Rescue NSW is asking those planning to hit Illawarra and Shoalhaven waterways this holiday season to boat or paddle like their life depends on it.
With three coastal bars along the Illawarra Coast, Marine Rescue NSW Inspector Stuart Massey is urging boaters to approach crossing the region’s bars with caution.
“We have a bar at Windang, we have one on the Shoalhaven River and we also have one at Sussex Inlet.
“If anyone is looking at crossing a bar, standoff, check the conditions and then decide whether it is safe to proceed,” Inspector Massey said.
Capsized vessels can lead to life-threatening emergencies and Inspector Massey said boaters and paddlers should always wear a lifejacket and remember some key actions if they find themselves in the water.
“Stay with your craft, it is easier to spot if you are with a craft even if it is upside down.
“Make sure you’ve got some way of calling for help whether you carry flares with you, whether you carry your phone in a waterproof case or even carry a portable radio,” Inspector Massey said.
Boaters and paddlers are encouraged to Log On with Marine Rescue NSW via the Marine Rescue app or VHF Channel 16 every time they head out on the water with paddlers more vulnerable to minor changes in conditions.
“Logging on isn’t just for powerboats.
“You could be on a stand up paddleboard, you could be in a canoe or kayak but it is important to Log On and Log Off with Marine Rescue NSW so we can look after you in the event you don’t come back when you say you were going to,” he said.
Inspector Massey said Logging On with Marine Rescue NSW saves vital time during an emergency response.
He is also reminding boaters to assess conditions and prepare thoroughly before hitting the water this holiday season.
“If you do turn up at the boat ramp and conditions have changed and are poor, don’t feel the obligation to always go out, make that assessment and sometimes the safest option is just to turn around and go home.
“Get your boat serviced, make sure that it works because over half of our jobs are for flat batteries or running out of fuel,” Inspector Massey said.
In the first 11 months of 2023, the seven Marine Rescue NSW units in the Illawarra (Port Kembla, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Jervis Bay, Sussex Inlet, Ulladulla and Kioloa) have completed 422 search and rescue missions, safely returning 947 people to shore.