Whether you’re new to boating or a seasoned boatie with years of experience, when it comes to a safe summer on the water, there’s no room for shortcuts. Before you venture out on beautiful Moreton Bay and beyond this summer be prepared by making sure your boat is ship-shape.

Start your engines…

…regularly to maintain reliability, especially if you don’t use your boat as often as you’d like. Run the engines, preferably in gear at low revs, until they reach operating temperatures and check auxiliary systems. Go through a maintenance check-list including oil and filters, coolant, transmission fluid and replace stale fuel. It’s a good time to book an annual service.

Take a good look…

…at your boat and make sure everything is in working order. Work your way around, checking everything, inside and out including the hull, rub rails, ladders, rudder and fittings. Go over the deck and below, checking fittings, hoses, clamps and bilge pumps. If you find anything that is damaged or worn, repair it or replace it.

…and equipment checking expiry dates on flares, fire extinguishers, EPIRB and inflatable life jackets. Replace anything that’s out of date. Make sure the boat’s battery is professionally checked so it’s capable of operating all electric equipment and has enough strength to start the motor. After lying idle over winter, batteries can become unreliable. Check batteries on portable equipment such as torches, radios and your GPS and make sure your emergency beacon’s registration is up to date.

Lifejackets…

…are made to be worn, so make sure yours are in good condition and still the correct size, especially if you have children on board. Even if you’re a strong swimmer it pays to wear a life jacket. Water temperature, distance from shore, and other factors can make swimming more difficult than you expect if you do encounter difficulties. And if you take a hit to the head and fall unconscious, the best swimming skills in the world won’t save you.

Don’t go overboard…

…on summer bevvies. It can be thirsty work out on the water but remember a skipper must have a blood alcohol limit of less than 0.05, the same rules as on the road. The effects of alcohol are enhanced on the water due to the sun, wind, waves and constant motion. Reflexes and response times to emergencies are slowed and swimming ability deteriorates considerably. Even when a boat is anchored, it may be considered to be used for navigation, and the blood alcohol limit applies. The limit doesn’t change unless the boat is securely moored in a marina, to a jetty or wharf or on a swing mooring.

Blue skies…

…can turn to grey so check the weather before you head out. Always check the forecast when planning a trip both before you leave and while you’re on the water. Queensland’s weather systems can change quickly which can also affect fuel consumption. When it comes to fuel, take more than enough – if conditions deteriorate and you face choppy seas you’ll burn more fuel, or may need to head to a safe anchorage and wait it out.

Have a whale…

…of a time but keep a safe distance if you’re lucky enough to experience a close encounter with any of Australia’s magnificent marine mammals. The Queensland Government’s department of Environment and Heritage Protection lists a number of rules to protect marine mammals still allowing us to watch them in safety – you can check out the details at eph.qld.gov.au.

For more summer safety and maintenance tips go to eastcoastmarina.com.au.

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