by Nathan Ross
The 2013 boating season will start with a bang on Sydney Harbour this October long weekend, coinciding with the Royal Australian Navy’s International Fleet Review.
'Responsible and safe behaviour is the message we’re driving home this boating season, starting with those skippers taking to the water next weekend for the biggest event on the harbour we’ve seen in 100 years,' General Manager of Transport for NSW’s Maritime Management Centre, Howard Glenn, said.
'On Thursday October 3, 16 tall ships from around the world will sail into Sydney Harbour, followed by 37 Australian and international warships the next day.
'More than 1.7 million visitors are expected throughout the week, with 1.4 million people likely to turn out on the long weekend,' Mr Glenn said.
'Our waterways will be buzzing with activity, so it’s extremely important skippers keep a proper lookout and take special care where higher speed and larger vessels are operating.'
Howard Glenn said now is also the time for boaters to check all their equipment to make sure it is in working order.
'For many boaters, the long weekend will be the first time in months they’ve hit the water so it is vital safety gear is still on board and still works in the way it should,' Mr Glenn said.
'Accidents can happen so you need to plan and prepare ahead of your trip.
'Skippers should also ensure everyone on board is either wearing or has appropriate life-jackets in the right sizes within reach,' Mr Glenn said.
'If you’re in a small boat (under 4.8 metres long), you must wear a life-jacket at night, when off-shore, or when you’re alone. This will be especially important to remember while watching the Fleet Review.
'Alarmingly, over the past decade, nine out of every 10 people who have drowned while boating in NSW, were not wearing a life-jacket and typically they were in a small vessel,' Mr Glenn said.
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'There is a common misconception out there that life-jackets are too bulky and stop your enjoyment on the water.
'This is absolutely not true. The new generation life-jackets on the market are affordable, comfortable and available in different styles to suit the individual and the activity,' Mr Glenn said.
'Life-jacket laws changed in 2010 and there is now zero tolerance for boaters not observing life-jacket laws.
'Just like sunscreen in summer, boaters need to understand life-jackets save lives,' Mr Glenn said.
'I implore people everywhere to act responsibly this boating season and get in the habit of putting on a life-jacket each time you’re on the water, especially in small boats. It might just save your life.'
Top Boating Tips For The International Fleet Review
On Thursday, October 3rd, skippers need to ensure they navigate no closer than 50 metres from the bow, sides and stern of the tall ships as they enter Sydney Harbour from 11am to 2pm.
On Friday, October 4th, skippers need to ensure they navigate no closer than 200 metres ahead and 60 metres from the sides or stern of each warship when the fleet enters Sydney Harbour from 6am to 6pm.
On Saturday, October 5th exclusion zones will be operating from Bradleys Head in the east to Cockatoo Island in the west and marked by buoys from 10.30am to 2.30pm for the Governor General’s official fleet review ceremony and then from 6.30pm to 9pm for the fireworks and light show.
Skippers need to ensure they travel at no more than six knots in the event area - equivalent to a fast jog.
All boaters should have a life jacket in the right size within reach, depending on requirements - even better, put it on.
Roads and Maritime Services will have more than 30 boating safety officers and patrol boats out on Sydney Harbour for the week of events, escorting official vessels and reminding skippers of safety arrangements.