Boating safety equipment saves lives

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A Sydney kayaker who was rescued yesterday clinging to his kayak in rough seas off Cronulla almost certainly saved his life by ensuring he was wearing and carrying the appropriate safety gear, NSW Maritime Acting General Manager Maritime Operations Trevor Williams said.

Mr Williams said the 43 year-old man, who was travelling solo and was picked up by the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter about 3.5 nautical miles east of Potter Point, had been wearing a lifejacket and was carrying an EPIRB when he ended up in the Tasman Sea during rough weather.

'It cannot be overstated how important it is to check that you have the appropriate recommended safety gear before heading out on the water,' Mr Williams said.

'In this case, the kayaker was located soon after activating his EPIRB, which allowed rescuers to pinpoint his exact location. But the conditions were poor and any delay in finding him could have resulted in a different outcome.'

'Just last week there was another close call boating incident in which two adults and two children were rescued safe and sound after their boat caught fire and quickly sank just off Sydney Heads, leaving them clinging to an esky. Search and rescue authorities were able to locate the four after they activated their EPIRB.

'For anyone heading more than 2 nautical miles offshore, EPIRBs are mandatory and potentially life saving equipment.'

Mr Williams said with new lifejacket laws now in place after 12 months of boater education, it was also crucial anyone heading out on the water knew when to wear a lifejacket.

'Lifejackets are the most important piece of safety equipment on any boat,' Mr Williams said.

When paddling a kayak, irrespective of your age you must wear a lifejacket when you are:·

on enclosed waters more than 100m from shore;
or
on open (coastal) waters, including when crossing a coastal bar;
or
in a licensed aquatic event and the conditions of the licence require you to wear it;
or
directed to do so by the master of the vessel

The kayaker was unhurt in the ordeal and did not need medical treatment.

To find out when lifejackets are required when boating in NSW, go to http://www.lifejacketwearit.com.au/

For more information on boating safety go to www.maritime.nsw.gov.au