Safety on the water has been occupying a lot of my time
lately. Over recent months, I have attended, and made presentations
to, two major industry conferences dedicated to marine safety,
and have also been put through my boating paces in a power boat handling
course run by Yachting Australia. In addition, it was our pleasure
to present the inaugural Club Marine Safety Trophy at the 2006
AMIF Boat of the Year Awards – won by Powercat for its outstanding
Powercat 2400, which is tested elsewhere in this issue.
As Australia’s largest provider of pleasure craft insurance,
it is in the nature of our work to deal with boating safety issues
on a daily basis. In fact, Club Marine controls the largest and most
comprehensive database of marine insurance claims in Australia. The
information it contains is based on our analysis of nearly 7000 marine
accidents each year. So, when it comes to boating safety, we know
a little about the subject.
For instance, our data tells us that if you over-indulge
in alcohol when you are boating, you are not only more likely to fall
overboard, but you are also more likely to drown once you hit the
water. The lesson here is obvious and is adhered to by the vast majority
of responsible boaties in Australia.
Not quite so cut-and-dried is the issue of Personal
Flotation Devices (PFDs). Referring back to our database, it’s clear from our
information that, regardless of whether you have had a drink or not,
you are many times more likely to drown if you end up in the water
and are not wearing a PFD. And this is especially true for children
and older people, or anyone in cold water environments. Yet, despite
this absolutely conclusive data, there is still an element in the
boating community that resists wearing PFDs on the water.
I would like to make it clear that Club Marine fully
supports the National Marine Safety Committee’s National Standard
for Recreational Boat Safety Equipment as it applies to PFDs. The
NMSC is currently looking at the issue of compulsory wearing of
PFDs and it is inviting input from all boat users – and Club
Marine readers and policyholders, of course – to help guide
it as it develops a workable policy for PFD regulation; hopefully
one that can be implemented as a consistent national standard. For
further information, or to have your say, go to www.nmsc.gov.au.
At present, individual state regulations vary on this
issue and it can only be good for everyone if a national standard
For what it’s worth, this skipper won’t allow anyone on
board unless they are prepared to follow the rules on wearing a PFD,
or if they won’t commit to wearing one when I feel it is
necessary. Our claims experience over many years leads us to believe
that children under the age of about 10, or anyone of any age who
is unable to swim very far, should be wearing their PFD whenever they
are on deck or in an open area. Our data also tells us that sole occupants
of any boat should be required to not only wear a PFD at all times,
but also to attach the kill cord on the engine control as additional
With the summer boating season almost upon us, it’s too important
an issue to ignore. We know PFDs save lives. There is absolutely no
argument about that. So do yourself, your families and your boating
companions a life-saving favour and make sure you ensure people are
wearing PFDs out on the water, particularly when in hazardous conditions,
like crossing bars or when underway at night.
As always (and this time I may live to regret this…), I welcome
your feedback, so feel free to drop me a line by email to: email@example.com.
Publisher and CEO
Club Marine Limited