Home' Afloat : AFLOAT July 2015 Contents Take monthly with water July 2015 27
We are now well into winter, and the water
temperatures continue to plunge across
the southern half of Australia. Inland waters have
become especially cold, and you wouldn’t want to
suddenly fall in without a lifejacket on!
If you fall into cold water (less than about
15 degrees), you will probably experience
pronounced ‘cold shock’ with rapid uncontrolled
breathing and a racing heart beat. Many people
tend to panic and it is very easy to swallow
water, especially if your head is forced under or
it is choppy. Even good swimmers have drowned
in boating accidents due to the shock of being
suddenly immersed in cold water. A lifejacket
helps support your head above water and gives
you time to regain your composure – if you don’t
panic, the effects of cold shock pass quickly –
generally within a minute or two.
International boating safety experts who spoke
about cold water at the recent Marine 15
conference advocated a ‘1-10-1’ rule: one minute
to get your breathing under control and manage
the cold shock; 10 minutes for effective movement
and self-rescue, for example to get onto an
upturned boat; and 1 hour before hypothermia
sets in. While some of these times might be a bit
longer in Australia, which has milder winters than
in the northern hemisphere, wearing a lifejacket is
still a huge advantage if you end up in the water.
A lifejacket will buy you time to consider your
options and to await rescue.
This is the time of year when active cold fronts
are at their most frequent. Strong westerly
winds associated with these fronts can whip up
dangerous waves in minutes – even on normally
calm lakes and estuaries. The same winds can
make waters close inshore along the NSW coast
very calm, while making it ever rougher the further
out you go – a potential trap for those who are
tempted to venture out in boats that are too small.
A recent boating tragedy on Melbourne’s Port
Phillip Bay highlights the risk of taking a small
boat beyond its capabilities. In this case, three
people in a small ‘punt’ style vessel ventured out
in rough conditions and did not return.
It can be hard to cancel that long-awaited fishing
trip or cruise. But if the conditions look doubtful,
or the boat is not suitable, it just isn’t worth the
risk of going out.
It is better to have a ‘Plan B’ – an alternative
fishing or boating spot, somewhere sheltered
from bad weather.
For more information on boating safety please
refer to http://maritimemanagement.transport.
nsw.gov.au/ or http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/
Watch the whales!
Winter is a great time for whale watching,
whether from the shore or from a boat.
These majestic marine mammals spend the
summer feeding near Antarctica. In late autumn
they begin migrating northwards, passing along
the NSW coast, en route to their winter breeding
and calving grounds in the Coral Sea. They return
south in spring, giving whale watchers another
Since whaling ceased in NSW in 1962, whale
numbers have rebounded and whale sightings are
increasing. While this is great for those wanting
to see whales, it does place some responsibility
on boaters: skippers need to know the regulations
for boating in the vicinity of whales, as well as
dolphins. These rules outline safe approach
distances and speeds. They are designed to
protect marine mammals - and boaters.
All vessels (powered and unpowered) must
remain at least 100 metres from any whale, or
300 metres if a calf is present, and maintain a
slow ‘no wash’ (i.e. walking pace) speed at all
times while within 300 metres. For dolphins,
vessels must stay at least 50 metres away from
adult pod members, or 150 metres where there
is a calf, and go slow at all times, minimising
wash when within 150 metres. Different rules
apply to personal watercraft (PWC) - these must
not approach within 300 metres of any whale or
dolphin at any time.
If approaching a whale or dolphin, start your
approach at an angle of at least 30 degrees
to their direction of travel. No more than three
vessels at a time should approach whales or
dolphins, so if there are other boats in the area,
wait for your turn and don’t barge in.
If a whale approaches your vessel, either slow
down to a ‘minimal wash’ speed and move
away, or disengage the vessel’s gears, making no
sudden movements and minimising all noise.
Whales and dolphins are not always immediately
obvious – so when whales are likely to be active
in an area, maintain a good lookout and a safe,
responsible speed to avoid harming or stressing
these placid creatures.
WINTER BOATING Cold water and lifejackets
Finally, don’t forget – the Sydney International
Boatshow is coming up. The show runs from 30
July to 3 August at Darling Harbour and Glebe
Island. It is open from 10 am to 8 pm each
day. For more information visit http://www.
Winter can be harsh in southern Australia...
Lake Eucumbene in the wake of a strong
A sticker summarising the rules around whales and dolphins.
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