BOATING ALERT - Safety in Surf at Coastal Bars
Surfer dies after being struck by boat at bar crossing
NSW Maritime is reminding surfers, windsurfers, kite boarders and kayakers to keep clear of boats that are navigating coastal bar crossings.
NSW Maritime chief executive, Steve Dunn said the warning followed a fatal incident earlier this month on the Gold Coast where a surfer died after he was struck by a boat at a bar crossing.
"Every skipper who navigates a bar crossing must be well prepared and on high alert; their vessel must be well prepared and seaworthy, and everyone onboard must wear a type 1 lifejacket," said Dunn.
"Once a skipper is committed to navigating across a bar, their ability to manoeuvre is extremely limited. Depending on the direction of the wind and waves, boats generally navigate through a particular channel which is often unmarked but defined by the best available deep water.
"Waves at coastal bars can also attract surfers, kite boarders, sailboarders and kayakers.
"All these activities can take place in, and around, bar areas if people apply care, courtesy and commonsense, and
observe the law," he said.
Dunn said that while powered boats generally give way to non-powered vessels, the regulations require surfers, kite boarders and paddlers to
take care not to
obstruct or impede the safe navigation of any vessel.
"While the regularly-used channel is generally clear of white water, there are times and conditions when surf breaks across the known course," said Dunn.
"Negotiating breaking waves in any boat is hazardous and requires experience, preparation and planning. If the vessel is broached, swamped, or capsizes during the bar crossing, lives are at risk," he said.
Penalties apply for obstructing or impeding the safe navigation of a vessel and in NSW can range from an
on-the-spot $250 fine to a
court-imposed penalty of up to $5500.
For more information on bar safety, see www.maritime.nsw.gov.au/campaigns/offshore.html
Photo: As this March 2009 photograph shows, the bar can be a crowded place for skippers. Surfers hang out on the righthand break as the Narooma bar claims another boat. All crew escaped serious injury. (Photo by Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol member Brian Gunter)
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