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March 2019

In this issue...

Lessons Learnt: Lock in a buddy plan

When Josh fell overboard on a solo fishing trip, no one knew to call for help.

Victorian boater Josh was adjusting his fishing rods when he suddenly found himself in the water, watching in disbelief as his boat motored away from him.

He tried to swim after the boat but, weighed down by his clothes, the drag in the water was too much and he couldn’t catch it.

Josh tells his story

“I pulled my lifejacket and swam for what seemed like forever,” said Josh.

“My wife knew I was going fishing – that’s about it. She was eight months pregnant at the time, and I guess I’m lucky that I got to meet my son.

“Based on my experience, my advice is: always tell someone your plans.”

Could your land buddy save you?

Boaters and paddlers have a far better chance of rescue in an emergency if they arrange a trigger time for someone on land to call 000.

Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) Acting Director Cameron Toy said one of the greatest risks to boaters is ending up in the water and being unable to call for help.

“In this situation, you are relying on someone on land to report you missing – but we often see cases where the person on land is hesitant to call 000, and they wait until it is nearly dark.

“This makes it much more difficult to carry out a successful rescue.”

Boaters should establish a clear emergency plan with a buddy on land, sharing the full details of their trip - including details of their boat or kayak - and agreeing on a time to call emergency services if they haven’t returned and can’t be reached.

“It is so important to set this trigger time, because if you are in trouble, the sooner the alarm is raised, the sooner a marine search and rescue unit can come to your assistance,” said Mr Toy.

MSV has partnered with Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) to remind all boaters to ‘Lock in a buddy plan’, as part of the boating safety campaign ‘Prepare to survive: Know the five’.

Watch the video of Josh telling his survival story, and get more advice on how to lock in a buddy plan:

Pictured: A man being rescued

A man is rescued from the water

Jet ski owner faces court

A man has been fined $300 after pleading guilty to letting his friend drive his personal watercraft (PWC) without a licence.

Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) officers spotted a PWC being operated at speed at Waranga Reservoir in January 2018.

Pictured: A PWC rider (not the offender)

Man riding PWC

The officers then discovered that the person driving the craft was unlicensed, and had been allowed to operate the craft by the owner who was waiting on shore. The rider was fined on the spot.

The PWC owner, from Hoppers Crossing, faced Shepparton Magistrates’ Court a year later (February 2019) and was handed a $300 fine and a 12-month good behaviour bond.

PWCs (often referred to as jet skis) are powerful machines that require marine licence with PWC endorsement.

The maximum penalty for letting someone operate your PWC without a licence is 10 penalty units – more than $1,600.

Unlicensed riders can only operate a PWC when supervised by a licensed operator who is over 18 and also on board so they can take over control if needed.

Safety Warning: Check your sealed decks

Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) technical experts outline the features of sealed decks and how they should work. If you have a small boat with a deck that is intended to be watertight, there are a number of issues to look out for.

MSV has inspected a number of vessels recently in the 4-7 m length range which are supposed to have sealed decks.

A vessel with a sealed deck typically has the following features:

  • A number of watertight compartments in the vessel hull under the sealed deck, sometimes filled with buoyancy material such as buoyancy foam.
  • Access to these compartments for inspection purposes which are fitted flush to the deck. These are often ‘spinouts’ and must be watertight preventing water from entering the compartments.
  • Sealed deck penetrations carrying cables, fuel systems hoses, wiring etc or deck penetrations with openings high up under the gunwales.
  • A sump (usually aft) where deck water can collect and be removed using a pump.
  • A pump or pumps used to remove water from the sump. Can be a marine hand pump but is commonly a 12-volt electric pump.
  • A means to activate the bilge pump, usually a float switch is fitted in the sump which is lifted when water is present which turns on the pump.
  • The float switch may be connected to an audible bilge level alarm located at the helm, so the owner is aware of water in the sump and that the pump is operating.
  • Vessels with sealed decks are usually a step up in size from a ‘tinny’ and often have a fixed underdeck fuel tank which has a watertight deck panel fitted above it.
  • Decks are sometimes higher than the external sea level. To assist in draining the deck, drainage holes or ‘scuppers’ are often fitted at deck level through the transom. These are often fitted with flaps which close to prevent water entering the vessel in rougher seas.
  • Drainage holes in the bottom of the vessel are sealed with bungs to drain any water which finds its way into the underdeck compartments. These are screwed in prior to the vessel being launched from its trailer and removed when the vessel is retrieved.

Pictured: Diagram showing a profile and underdeck example - A: Sealed deck, B: Bilge pump, D: Drain, F: Fuel tank, S: Sealed compartments.

Diagram of boat with bilge pump

Typically an incident occurs where water collects out of sight of a sealed deck that has failed. The consequences are serious - with outcomes including flooding, capsizing and sinking with potential fatalities.

For the sealed deck to work properly, all of the above are designed to work together to keep a vessel safe. Each item must be maintained in good condition.

The inspected vessels all had one or more failures in these systems.

The chronology of failures and their causes is often very similar and goes something like this:

  1. Vessel takes on water, due to:
    a. Vessel leaking, because of hull structural failure
    b. Water entering below deck compartments, because of water being taken on deck due to waves, spray, rain and deck structural failure and/or failure of watertight spinouts and/or failure of fuel tank soft patches and/or unsealed deck penetrations for wiring, cables etc.
  2. Crew not being able to remove water, due to:
    a. Not knowing water was entering vessel, because of no operating bilge pump alarm
    b. Water not being able to be removed, because of no working pump, or no working float switch to operate pump, or sump or bilge access too small to allow removal of water by bailer or bucket.
  3. Vessel capsizes, due to:
    a. Water in hull(s) and on deck, because sufficient water has entered to increase mass of boat for freeboard to be lost, and/or insufficient flotation to support increased mass, and/or water in compartments, tanks and on deck creates sloshing water surfaces which reduce stability
  4. Vessel floats in a poor attitude or sinks, due to:
    a. Amount and position of flotation materials will determine what happens to vessel - check your Australian Builders Plate. Note that a vessel with ‘level’ flotation performs best, by staying as upright as possible.

Pictured: Diagram showing a boat’s transom and scuppers, shown in red.

Diagram of boat's transom

In the news

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