Stay safe on the Granite Belt's waterways this summer
SUMMER boating season is well and truly here. I'm so glad to see that the dams we use for recreation have plenty of water in them and they are being well used by locals and visitors alike.
I always like to put a shout out around this time of year to remind everyone that the idea of going boating, whether it's fishing, skiing or whatever, is to have fun - to make your life better, not to make it worse.
If you are like me and have limited time for recreation, you need to make the most of it and get the "best bang for your buck”.
If you're not getting enjoyment out of what you are doing for fun, you really need to ask yourself 'why?'
Sadly, every summer, the news stories start to become more frequent about people having incidents or losing their lives on the water.
We've only got one life each - so look after it, and those around you.
Here's a few tips that I'd like to pass on. Tips based on my life's experience as a boatie, recreationally and professionally. As a fisherman, a Water Police officer and a boat licence trainer.
Always carry the appropriate safety equipment for the area that you are boating in. The further you go from the shore, the more self-sufficient you need to be and the longer you may need to wait for help.
Wear your life jacket. A lot of modern life jackets are light and in-obtrusive and you hardly know you are wearing them. To me it's a no-brainer and I just put one on when I get in the boat.
Have a safe boat. Make sure it's in good order, carry plenty of fuel and check it over before you launch it so you don't forget to stick the bungs in it. Don't overload it.
Don't try to do too much by yourself. Sometimes we need someone to help us. You know, to launch the boat or put it back on the trailer. When you water-ski you must have a spotter, anyone can do it they just need to be at least 13 years old.
Operate your boat with courtesy and common sense. Think about what you are doing and try to make sure your activities don't impact too much on what other people are doing.
Don't drink and drive. Water and alcohol don't mix.
Have a plan for what you might do if something goes wrong. What happens if the engine stops? What happens if the boat starts filling up with water and so on. The worst time to come up with an effective plan is in the middle of an emergency. Proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance - or something like that.
Always tell someone where you are going, what you are doing and what time you are going to get back. And then (this is the hard part) stick to the plan and be reliable. If something goes wrong you want people to notice you are not there. Take it from me, reliable people get rescued much faster.
Most of all, don't forget that you are supposed to be having fun.