Thursday, February 22, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

STAY SAFE ON THE WATER!! Navigating checklist

• Check the weather, check the weather, check the weather! – and if you are in any doubt, don’t go out!

• Visibility: Operate slowly in rain, fog, mist, smoke and glare. Take special care when travelling at night as potential hazards are harder to see. Ensure you operate at a safe speed.

• Other boats: Slow down in busy areas and when near moored or anchored boats, and remember — working boats and larger ships may have difficulty manoeuvring.

• Navigation hazards: Slow down in shallow areas and when boating in unfamiliar water. Water depth can vary and change quickly, particularly around reefs.

• Wind, waves and currents: These may affect the boat’s stopping and turning ability. The type of motor, hull and design will all impact on the boat’s manoeuvrability.

• Check your navigation lights are working and fitted correctly and use them after dusk or in times of reduced visibility.

How to avoid marine incidents

Most marine incidents are avoidable, and are often caused through inattention, lack of knowledge and experience, or complacency of the skipper. Remember, if you are the skipper, you are responsible!


   • Know at least the basics of the give way (COLREGS) regulations on the water, and obey them at all times.

   • Make your intentions clear - actions must be clear and deliberate so other skippers can see your intentions. Never assume the skipper of another boat will observe the rules; always be prepared to take action to avoid a collision.

   • Keep a proper lookout – a proper lookout, through sight and sound and all available navigation tools, must be kept at all times. Slow down and take extra precautions in bad weather, restricted visibility and the hours of darkness to assist with the early detection of other boats in the area.

   • Assess risk of collision and take action - use all means available – sight, sound, radar, plotter - to assess whether other boats pose a risk of collision. If a risk of collision exists take early, positive action (changing course and/or speed) to eliminate the risk. Never assume the other boat will automatically ‘give way’.


   • Know the waterway – plan your trip and use navigational aids such as charts, GPS and navigation beacons.

   • Pay attention – many groundings occur because the skipper misreads a beacon through inattention.

   • Tides – the height of the tide may mean some areas are unnavigable at certain times. Check before you venture out.

Check out Maritime Safety Queensland’s free Recreational Boating Handbook, available from any MSQ office, or online at the MSQ website.

VMRW membership is cheap insurance at just $90. You can join online at and your membership helps to keep us going in case you need us. We hope you don’t – but we are here 24/7/365 if you do!

Contributed with thanks to Whitsunday Volunteer Marine Rescue.

Caption: Hilarious images of boating mishaps. Please note; none of these happened in the Whitsundays. Photos supplied

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