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29 September 2016

Welcome to the first edition of Shipshape, launching our Lessons Learnt feature and merging our Boating Safety News and Maritime News Digest into a monthly publication for boaters.

Lessons Learnt - Anglesea angels of the sea

On Tuesday 3 May 2016, secondary school students from  Warrnambool were kayaking at Anglesea beach.

Visibility was clear and the temperature was mild, however wind was blowing offshore at an average speed of 30 knots, gusting to more than 50 knots.


At about 9am, seven double kayaks were put in the water in the sheltered part of Anglesea beach near Angelsea Surf Life Saving Club. The intention was to paddle out beyond the surf break, turn and ride a wave back in.

During the activity, one kayak carrying two students drifted outside the sheltered part of the beach and eventually capsized just beyond the surf break. The pair had difficulty getting back into the kayak and then found it impossible to paddle against the wind back into shore.

Teachers monitoring the activity on shore saw the drifting kayak and signalled for everyone to head to shore.

A second kayak capsized close to the surf break. These kayakers remained close to shore.

Two teachers in a third kayak and two students in a fourth kayak paddled out to try to assist the drifting kayak. They were unsuccessful as no kayakers were able to paddle back against the 30 knot plus wind. At this point, eight people were on the water and all were in difficulty.

Two kayaks – the one that had begun drifting initially, as well as the one carrying the teachers -  capsized adjacent to Foxies Reef and all four occupants swam to the reef.

The fourth kayak, with two students who had paddled out to try and assist, ended up drifting up to a nautical mile beyond Foxies Reef.

Fortunately, off-duty members of the Angelsea Surf Life Saving Club were on the beach and they responded by accessing SLSC equipment and raising the alarm.

Eventually two inflatable rescue boats (IRBs) were launched to assist the kayakers. One of the kayakers out of the pair who had capsized but not drifted away was assisted to shore by a teacher on a surfboard, the other was retrieved by one of the IRBs.

The four kayakers at Foxies Reef and the two who had drifted further out to sea were returned safely to shore by lifesavers in one of the IRBs, cold but fortunately uninjured.

Heads up for: All paddlers
• always wear a life jacket when paddling
• don't paddle in offshore winds - particularly if you are a novice paddler
• know your location and the risks involved - choose a suitable location for your activity and understand how the wind direction and sea conditions impact on the safety of that location (seek out local knowledge from someone if you are unfamiliar with the location)
• check the weather when planning your activity as well as on the actual day before you head out
     o check the Bureau of Meteorology website for marine forecasts, wind warnings and trends over the time you will be out
     o make sure your method of obtaining weather updates will work where you are operating
     o ensure you understand the weather information forecast for your area of activity, and the wind speed and direction associated with any warning or forecast issued. (Remember 1 knot = 1.85kph)
• if operating near the coast, understand the effects of topography on the wind and know how to identify the lee (wind shadow) visually
• know the limitations of your ability and that of your craft and equipment, and ensure they are suitable for conditions and your planned activity
• know the capabilities of your group, particularly the maximum wind speed your group is able to paddle into for a sustained period - plan for the weakest member
• have a contingency plan should something go wrong (for example: capsize, fatigue, effects of cold water immersion, lost paddle, broken paddle, lost craft, unexpected change in sea or wind conditions etc) and ensure your plan is understood by everyone in the group


• have a plan for self-rescue and for how to get external help - if you can't self-rescue in the conditions, don't go out
• carry communications equipment capable of contacting emergency services from the location of your activity (consider a phone in a waterproof pouch, VHF radio, EPIRB or personal locator beacon)
• tell someone where you are going and when you will be returning, so that they can raise the alarm if you have not been able to.

Heads up for: Group leaders
• conduct a comprehensive risk assessment during the planning of the activity and review it on the day of the activity - before heading out on the water!
• comply with guidelines such as those published by the Department of Education and Training and Canoeing Australia.
• ensure:
     o those supervising the activity have suitable qualifications or experience
     o the capabilities of each group member are known and not exceeded - plan for the weakest member
     o the group is trained and skilled in group rescue techniques, establish an effective communication method within your group and there is adequate on-water supervision
     o the group stays together and the activity remains within any boundaries established for the activity
     o contingency plans to recover paddlers in difficulty are adequate, achievable and suitable for the conditions and that you have a means of escalating the plan to get external help
     o your group carries communications equipment capable of contacting emergency services from the location of the activity (consider phone in waterproof pouch, VHF radio, EPIRB or personal locator beacon).

Maritime Safety Victoria has created a Safety Alert on the dangers of paddling in offshore winds for all individuals and organisations engaging in paddling activities. Read it here.

Calling all paddlers! Want to win a PLB?

Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) is all about keeping people safe on the water, and we have a great opportunity for paddlers that will also help us to keep you safe at the same time.

You could win one of four personal locator beacons (PLB) by completing our paddling survey.


Why should you help?

Victorians own around 242,000 non-powered vessels, including kayaks and canoes. Unfortunately, Victoria has the highest number of kayak fatalities in Australia and New Zealand - 30 per cent of overall boating fatalities in the past five years compared with 13 per cent nationally. It seems that paddlers' safety awareness and trip preparations are not keeping pace with the popularity of this activity.

The results of the survey will help us to ensure that paddlers have access to the information that they need to paddle safely on Victorian waters. The results will also help us to target useful information more appropriately for the needs of paddlers.

If you have paddled a kayak, canoe, standup paddleboard or surf ski / ocean ski on Victorian waters in the past 12 months, take the survey here.

Free safety checks for boating community

Wyndham Harbour plays host to Maritime Safety Victoria’s Community Boating Safety Expo October 15-16.

The Boating Safety Expo will be at Quay Boulevard in Werribee South between 10am and 5pm Saturday and 11am to 4pm Sunday. Boaters are encouraged to bring their vessels either by trailer or entering via the marina.

Food and beverage vans and fun activities for children will make it a family friendly event.

Read more

Take a rain check on boating on floodwaters

Boaters, kayakers, canoeists and water skiers should stay off floodwaters because:

  • rising water levels mean that previously visible hazards, such as trees and stumps, are now being submerged and creating risks for anyone on the water
  • increased water flows and the associated faster moving water are creating safety risks, for example, making steering more difficult or paddling more tiring
  • debris is being washed downstream that could be large enough to damage or overturn vessels, or affect their ability to be manoeuvred around danger spots.

Read more

New safety signs in time for summer

We've been putting up new safety signs around Victoria in time for the summer boating season.

Can you figure out where this sign is?

Tell us on our Facebook page Boat Safe, Ride Safe or tweet to @MaritimeTSV.

In the news

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