Play safe during Australia Day

Snr Const Brad Bell says always have an EPIRB beacon aboard.
Snr Const Brad Bell says always have an EPIRB beacon aboard.

‘Unfortunately, long days in the sun mixed with alcohol can create a dangerous concoction on the water, and with the new changes to speed limits, EPIRB and flare rules, all skippers should take the upmost caution,’ Senior Constable Brad Bell said.

About 4pm on Boxing Day, a 10m launch with about 40 young people drinking aboard was swamped and sank when about 12 private boats gathered in a fleet known as a raft-up, prompting several Water Police patrols, in Mosman Bay, Mosman Park.

There were no injuries and, apart from about four boating infringements, charges are unlikely.

However, January 1 changes to boating rules now require a use-by date on flares and EPIRB safety beacons to be carried between the mainland and Rottnest and Garden islands.

The beacons have to be aboard vessels more than two nautical miles from the coast, or 400m from an island more than two nautical miles offshore.

On the Swan and Canning rivers, a 10-knot limit applies in non-restricted areas between sunset and sunrise, while an eight-knot restriction is now in force from Chidley Point, Mosman Park through adjacent Freshwater Bay, Claremont.

‘Every day we have vessels travelling at speeds in excess of 30 knots through the newly imposed 8-knot zone,’ Snr Const Bell said.

Occasional divers must conduct their sport under the rules used by regular divers, after Water Police patrols often found vessels with dive flags barely visible from fishing-rod holders stuck on boats’ sides.

‘If you are diving on scuba or a hookah system, it is law that your vessel must display a dive flag, flag Alpha, but it is recommended that if you’re the skipper and people are snorkelling from the vessel, the flag should also be displayed,’ Snr Const Bell said.