Boaters urged to wear life jackets in safety blitz after man goes missing from capsized boat

Mr Davey said the majority of people are doing the right thing on the water, but some people have missed the message and are not carrying adequate safety equipment with them.

Safety equipment should also be checked regularly, he said, including servicing inflatable life jackets to ensure they are not being tested for the first time in an emergency.

Some of the more common penalties imposed by NSW Maritime are failure to wear a lifejacket ($250), failure to wear a lifejacket for each occupant of a boat ($250), fines for speeding ($100 to $250) and driving a jet ski. without a permit ($500).

Kayakers and paddlers are overrepresented in in-water fatalities and should wear life jackets.Credit:Rhett Wyman

Other common penalties include having an unregistered boat, with some people becoming confused and believing their boat is registered when its trailer is registered.

One focus of the weekend blitz – which continues Sunday – is kayakers and paddleboarders, who are overrepresented in water-related fatalities. Mr Davey said some did not wear life jackets, either because they did not know they had to or because they simply did not want to.

“Some people say ‘I really don’t want to wear a life jacket,'” Mr Davey said. “Things like that are where penalty notices can be issued.”

Of the 16 boating-related deaths in New South Wales in 2021, 13 were not wearing a life jacket and half were using a paddle boat such as a kayak.

A family <a class=wearing life jackets give a thumbs up on Sydney Harbor on Saturday.” loading=”lazy” src=”$zoom_0.496%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_236%2C$y_86/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/df65ade3455ddf8a7e1e821ee1a66d9f9055ffa5″ height=”224″ width=”335″ srcset=”$zoom_0.496%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_236%2C$y_86/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/df65ade3455ddf8a7e1e821ee1a66d9f9055ffa5,$zoom_0.496%2C$multiply_0.8862%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_236%2C$y_86/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/df65ade3455ddf8a7e1e821ee1a66d9f9055ffa5 2x”/>

A family wearing life jackets give a thumbs up on Sydney Harbor on Saturday.Credit:Rhett Wyman

Mr Davey strongly encouraged people to wear a life jacket at all times, even if they are not required to do so by law.

“If you don’t wear it, it can’t help you – so we’re really getting that message across,” he said.

Swimmers were also urged to be careful in the water this weekend, with NSW recording 15 deaths and drownings on the coast since December 1 – two more than at this time last year.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the deaths, including three rockfishers, show the need for caution on beaches, pools, rivers and lakes.

“Australia Day is traditionally a high-risk public holiday on our waterways,” Mr Perrottet said. “Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to each other.”

Surf Live Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce said people should check conditions before swimming, wear a life jacket if rock fishing and remember that “alcohol and water activities do not don’t mix”.


“We urge all beach goers to be vigilant and make sure their trip to the beach is one to remember for all the right reasons,” Mr Pearce said.

There are expected to be more nautical blitzes this summer, with five statewide operations typically conducted each year in addition to local enforcement.

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