by Penny Robins
Operation Lights on, a Roads and Maritime Services Easter campaign targeting boat lighting compliance, has found some skippers in the dark as to what is required for safety reasons.
NSW Transport Roads and Maritime services
Twenty skippers received fines or penalty notices for insufficient lighting during the campaign, which saw Maritime Boating Safety Officers randomly check lighting and safety equipment supplies aboard all types of vessels on State waters.
'In all, 3667 vessels were checked during the campaign with a 99.05 per cent compliance rate for navigation lighting,' Maritime Director Tony Middleton said. 'Overall there was an 89.3 per cent compliance rate among those vessels checked, with insufficient lifejackets and other safety equipment corresponding to most fines and formal warnings.'
'Generally, boat owners and operators understand the importance of being seen on the water, from a safety perspective, at night. Any vessel that operates from sunset to sunrise, whether at anchor or underway, must carry and exhibit the correct lights.'
Mr Middleton said the most commonly occurring navigation lighting issue that had been seen by Maritime Boating Safety Officers during the campaign related to the all round white light.
'The height of the all round white light – especially on older vessels - was found to be a problem in some cases,' he said.
'An all round white light, as the name indicates, is the main light that must be displayed at night, displaying an arc of unbroken light 360 degrees around the vessel.
'If you are operating a vessel at night and you are underway, you must be displaying port lights, starboard lights, and also an all round white light.'
Mr Middleton said a vessel at anchor should display only an all round white light. However, some anchored vessels were found to be still running lights at port and starboard.
'Boat owners should also be aware that it is their responsibility to check that any lighting fitted to their vessel complies with requirements,' he said.
'It is not enough to assume that the manufacturer will have set the all round white light, for example, at the right height to be seen from 360 degrees. Boat owners must do their own checks to ensure they are compliant with night lighting, or face fines.'
Number of vessels checked, fines and formal warnings issued were as follows:
· Sydney – 780 checks, 29 fines, 33 formal warnings
· North Coast – 534 checks, 28 fines, 33 formal warnings
· Hunter/ Inland – 841 checks, 30 fines, 56 formal warnings
· Hawkesbury River/ Broken Bay – 313 checks, 18 fines, 19 formal warnings
· South Coast – 707 checks, 17 fines, 41 formal warnings
· Murray/ Inland – 492 checks, 39 fines, 49 formal warnings.
Operation Lights On began on Good Friday and continued up to and including Easter Monday.
For more information on night navigation lighting visit Maritime NSW website.