Please select your home edition
SailX 728x90

Safety message lost

by Mark Rothfield on 8 May 2013
Marine Rescue NSW is well equipped to handle safety and leave 'service' to RMS. Connexion PR
A newspaper snippet once talked about an Icelandic trawler skipper who was so sozzled on schnapps that he crashed into a couple’s anchored yacht, causing major damage.

Months later, after a few wines, the same skipper thought he’d sail over to apologise. He rammed them again.

I see how that could be downright annoying, and that we need rules to stop a repetition. But maritime authorities around Australia, under the guise of being guardian angels, are increasingly going overboard in their liberal application of fines.

In NSW, those concerned and kindly folk from Roads and Maritime Services who brought us combined red-light/speed cameras have been at it again in recent months, conducting a so-called safety blitz for water-skiing dangers.

The hit rate was relatively poor, with 104 boaters being fined after 2400 vessel checks, so they’re educating us about something most already know. With one PWC rider being slugged $750 for failing to have an observer and not wearing an appropriate life jacket, a cynic would think they were more concerned about raising revenue than awareness.

Come the end of daily savings there was navigation light compliance and there have been countless safety equipment campaigns resulting in more penalties. They even gloated about using YouTube video to fine a charter fishing operator $1500 for negligent navigation after the 13-metre vessel was struck by a wave, causing it to roll violently to one side.

But here’s where it gets absurd … in an incident last year, an overloaded runabout capsized after being swamped by a wave. There were five people aboard – four aged under 17 – and only one life jacket between them. The boat was unregistered and missing a safety label.

The offences of failing to carry sufficient safety equipment and failing to ensure the children were wearing a life jacket -each attracted $1000 fines. For being the master of an unregistered vessel, the skipper was slugged $1500, plus a further $1000 for not displaying a safety label.

The lesser penalties relate to safety equipment, whereas registration and labels have a bearing on the bureaucratic machine but not on lives.

Here’s the problem, in my view: when the educator is also the executioner the safety message gets confused. The good cop shouldn’t play bad cop, just like the sports coach can’t be referee as well.

Roads and Maritime Services, to use the NSW example, has an identity crisis. It should be here to ‘serve’ as its name suggests – use the fees from moorings and registrations to build better shore facilities, manage infrastructure, clear hazards from the water.

Leave boat towing to the rescue groups - like Marine Rescue - and leave the policing of regulations to the Water Police. Most people would be ‘fine’ with that I reckon ... but drop me a line if you have other ideas.
North Technology - Southern SparsSchaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

Brawn v Brain? The Bar or The Room?
Interesting questions and can they possibly be linked in any way. Interesting questions and can they possibly be linked in any way. Is it just the one connection, or could there indeed be several ways to address this conundrum? Well the route of the answer could be SailX, the online inshore racing game.
Posted on 7 Jul
Volvo Ocean Race to be contested over longest distance in history
Tough, intense, and featuring almost three times as much Southern Ocean sailing as the previous edition The 43-year-old race around the world – the ultimate ocean marathon, pitting the sport’s best sailors, against each other across the world’s toughest oceans – will start from Alicante in late 2017 with a 700nm sprint to Lisbon, Portugal that will provide the first test of the form guide.
Posted on 29 Jun
Volvo Ocean Race adds full Southern Ocean Leg and 5000nm to new course
Volvo Ocean Race has announced a new course for the 2017/18 round the world event. Several major changes are planned including a return to a full Southern Ocean leg, and the addition of a massive Leg 5 of 13,300nm - the longest leg ever sailed in the Volvo Ocean Race. By way of comparison a minimum circumnavigation around the planet is approximately 21,600nm to be recognised as, a record for the course by WSSRC.
Posted on 28 Jun
Foiling into the Windy City
. .
Posted on 10 Jun
Australia and Britain - The best of rivals or the best of partners?
There has always been a strong rivalry between Aussies and Poms, with of course the Ashes being the pinnacle of it all. There has always been a strong rivalry between Aussies and Poms in sport, with of course the Ashes being the pinnacle of it all. In the International Moth World Championship there is an Ashes trophy and, for the first time in a long while, the Brits took the trophy home.
Posted on 31 May
Practice makes perfect?
There are a lot of us who try to get out on the water whenever we can. There are a lot of us who try to get out on the water whenever we can - be it a club race, a weekend open or a championship. The general feeling is that the more we sail, the better we get, but is that actually the case?
Posted on 27 May
Races, Regattas and Disruptive Technology
x In the olden days, the major cost of attending a regatta for yacht owners and crew was the accommodation and still is. Of course for cruising yachties, traditionally the crew stays on boat, during regatta week, because after all it is replete with dishwasher, washing machine, a good cellar and an oven in which you could cook a roast. For racing boat owners or dinghy owners, life was not so easy.
Posted on 19 Apr
Children of the Internet, Rio and Hong Kong
x x
Posted on 13 Apr
World Sailing Cup - Ahead a Dead Rat in a Shoe v3 or Spring Daffodils
While a host of major sailing events go from strength to strength, the Sailing World Cup has very major issues. Last night my Irish better half was sitting beside me on the sofa watching an Australian version of the popular TV Cooking Program My Kitchen Rules on a tablet with her headphone while I was watching Diehard II for the seventeenth time (it’s a boy thing) on TV. She suddenly spluttered and laughed, took off her headphones and motioned for me to mute Diehard. (Seriously!!)
Posted on 7 Apr
World's most popular boat revisited and big news from Volvo Ocean Race
x x
Posted on 1 Apr