Boat Safety – Is It for Me?
25th July 2017
Malta is perfect for boating for the majority of the year – so perfect in fact, that many will forget, or even not bother, to take any safety precautions…because nothing bad will happen to us, right?
The problem with being on the water is that the conditions could change dramatically in an instant – if you’re not prepared for all situations, you’re severely risking your safety and that of everyone on board with you. Would you really like to do that?
No, we thought not.
To help you out, here’s a list of all the things we think you should consider before setting out.
Check the Weather and Sea Conditions
Check the weather forecast before casting off! Make sure you’re comfortable navigating in the weather for the duration of the trip, that you’re familiar with currents and wind patterns in the area of navigation. We’re lucky enough not to have any complex tide calculations to consider, so we really should not neglect any additional safety checks!
Have, and follow, a departure checklist
We know that no place is too far off on our tiny islands, but a short checklist will go a long way in preventing embarrassment, inconvenience or outright danger. In this list we’d include things like; ship’s papers and licences, charts of the area, VHFs and distress signals, spare batteries, tools and spares, fire extinguishers lifejackets and most importantly, enough fuel for the journey, return and spare.
Ensure there are enough lifejackets on board, plus one extra. Ensure that everyone on board knows how to properly fit and use one.
Use a safe operating speed according to the weather conditions, visibility and surroundings. Make sure you’re familiar with all the swimmers’ zones and any restricted areas and do not operate any vessels within swimmer’s zones.
Use a Float Plan
In it’s simplest form, a float plan means that you should let someone know you’re going to be on the water, where you’re going and how long you’re going to be. Why is this important? If something happens to you while you’re out, someone will know when to start looking for you.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Drinking and driving is as dangerous on the sea as it is on the roads, whether you’re traveling at speed, performing a tight manoeuver or operating in busy areas. In the hot Maltese summer, people are already likely to be dehydrated – add this to the fact that you’re less likely to drink enough water while out on your boat, and this means that any alcohol you drink is more likely to affect you while at sea.
Remember that as of July 2017, Transport Malta will be introducing breathalyzer testing to boats as well as motor vehicles.
How else would you stay safe at sea? Let us know in the comments below!