Checking the weather before heading out on the water is standard for most Victorian boaters, but many don’t realise that one check is not enough.
Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) has partnered with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to encourage boaters and paddlers to know the weather for their whole trip.
“Conditions on the water can change incredibly quickly,” said Maritime Safety Director Rachel Gualano.
“It is so important that boaters don’t become complacent about checking the weather while they are out there.”
BOM offers a range of trusted tools for marine weather. Visit bom.gov.au/marine for the Coastal Waters and Local Waters forecasts, and use BOM’s MetEye tool to help you assess localised wind and wave conditions for three, six and nine hours ahead.
Boaters can also check for updates on the BOM Weather app, and listen to marine weather reports on VHF marine radio channels 16 and 67 – broadcast via Marine Radio Victoria.
When weather turns deadly
Victorian boater Max says he’s witnessed weather having fatal consequences.
As a child, Max was fishing with his dad off South Werribee in Port Phillip Bay, when his dad spotted a huge storm front coming in from Geelong.
“Dad said, ‘we are heading back in, and quickly’. As we did, we passed a bigger boat that was heading out and dad told them to turn around and head for home.
“They completely ignored him.”
Later that night, Max and his dad saw on the news that the boat they had seen was missing. Of the six people on board, only one survivor was found.
“We were the last people to see them alive,” said Max.
“I have never forgotten that incident and whenever I head out, I always have the latest weather updates, VHF radio on, EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) ready and everyone is wearing a lifejacket.”
‘Know the weather’ is a key message in MSV’s new boating safety campaign ‘Prepare to survive: Know the five’.
Watch Max tell his story, and get more advice from BOM and MSV, at msv.vic.gov.au/prepare/weather.
Prepare to survive: Know the five
- Know the weather
- Practise getting back on
- Carry a distress beacon
- Lock in a buddy plan
- Wear a lifejacket.
As Ms Gualano explained, one of the greatest risks to boaters and paddlers is unexpectedly entering the water, and then not being able to get back onto their vessel or to call for help.
“Our research shows that many boaters and paddlers tend to underestimate the risks and overestimate their capabilities.
“For example, 37% of paddlers and 31% of coastal boaters reported that on their last outing, they did not carry any equipment to help them get back onto their craft if they fell overboard.
“We want to remind all boaters that no matter how experienced they are, things can still happen that are outside of their control.
“Our ‘Prepare to survive’ campaign brings home the importance of trip preparation, so that if something does happen on the water, boaters have the absolute best chance of survival.”
Find out more at msv.vic.gov.au/prepare.