Police safety warning to boat skippers

Snr Const Brad Bell has reminded boat skippers that they always need to have an EPIRB aboard.
Snr Const Brad Bell has reminded boat skippers that they always need to have an EPIRB aboard.

‘Unfortunately, long days in the sun mixed with alcohol can create a dangerous concoction on the water, and with changes to speed limits, EPIRB and flare rules, all skippers should take the utmost 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.

There were no injuries and, apart from 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 more than 2 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 to adjacent Freshwater Bay, Claremont.

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

Occasional divers must still conduct their sport under the rules used by regular divers. Water Police patrols often found vessels with dive flags barely visible from fishing rod holder 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

The regulations require skippers who see a dive flag to remain observant at a safe speed and stay at least 50 metres away.