Getting older shouldn’t spell an end to your boating days.
Ever considered why the classic boat captain stereotype is a grizzled, salty old bloke who looks like he’s just about rusted onto his vessel?
Simple. Because captaining a boat, recreational or otherwise, is one arena where experience trumps just about any other prerequisite.
Ask any passenger whether they’d put their confidence in the sprightly young deckhand with the keen eyes or the mature skipper with decades of experience – the skipper with more experience usually ends up at the helm.
However, even the most experienced boaters can face unexpected risks on the water. People aged 70+ are over-represented in boating trauma in NSW, accounting for about in 1 in 5 fatalities.
Of course, changes to health and mobility do mean that boaties over the age of 65 have to be more diligent to ensure their own safety and that of their passengers.
Your sea legs might not be what they were when you were 20. Take an extra few moments of care when getting in and out of dinghies and tenders, and commit to wearing a lifejacket at all times when on the water.
Taking a few simple precautions and buddying up with friends and family are vital to navigating dangerous circumstances and ensuring a safe day on the water every time.
Being a worthy skipper means taking responsibility at all times. Being honest with yourself and knowing your limits is key. That means if you’re at all concerned about your ability to react quickly in an emergency, consider wearing an auto-inflating or foam lifejacket.
In the event of an incident at sea, wearing a suitable lifejacket could likely mean the difference between surviving or your family getting the phone call that no one ever wants to imagine.
As we get older, we experience changes to our health that can make it harder to stay active. It’s always a great idea to visit your doctor or medical specialist regularly so that up-to-date advice can be provided to help manage any health issues that could impact upon your ability to manage challenges on the water.
TIPS FOR SAFE BOATING
- Ensure the skipper and crew wear a suitable lifejacket at all times when on the water.
- Check the weather and sea condition forecasts across weather information sources, such as the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), before and during your time on the water.
- Ensure your boat is adequately equipped with up-to-date safety equipment including an EPIRB and marine radio, plus a suitable and well-maintained lifejacket for every person on board.
- All skippers – no matter what their level of experience – should remember to log on and off with Marine Rescue NSW via app, marine radio or phone
- Customise your boat with quality safety equipment including non-slip surfaces, additional handholds and a boarding ladder.
BEFORE HEADING ONTO THE WATER
- As well as logging on with Marine Rescue NSW, make sure to tell someone at home when and where you are headed and your estimated return time.
- Avoid heading out on the water solo and boat with a mate whenever possible.
- Make sure your vessel is regularly serviced and is in reliable working order. Familiarise yourself with all its controls and functions.
- Keep a vigilant lookout for obstacles, changes in weather or sea conditions, as well as all other vessels in your proximity at all times when on the water.
- Be aware of signs of fatigue, and stay well rested – share the helm, as fatigue affects everyone
- Avoid operating a vessel if you feel unwell or are in any way impaired. Be prepared to change plans and return home if conditions change or other factors change that could impact everyone’s safety.