Operation EPIRB highlights safey concerns

Boating offshore demands skippers take extra care when it comes to safety equipment, according to NSW Maritime Regional Manager Charlie Dunkley.

Mr Dunkley said Operation EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) was staged over the weekend of 24-25 October and the most common infringement was a failure to carry the required distress signalling beacon.

“NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers patrolled offshore at Port Stephens, Newcastle, Swansea and Norah Head over the weekend,” he said.

“Those Boating Safety Officers carried out a total of 145 spot safety checks on vessels.

“While only two on-the-spot fines were issued, eight formal warnings were handed out, mainly for failure to carry the required emergency distress beacon … a 406MHz EPIRB.”

Mr Dunkley said 406 beacons were compulsory to carry on any vessel heading 2 nautical miles or more offshore.

“These beacons can make the difference in an emergency and cost less than some fishing rigs,” he said.

“If you are going offshore, carry a 406, it could save your life.

”Each 406 MHz beacon – registered to an individual person and their craft – carries a unique identification code, transmitted when the beacons is activated.

The unique code provides vital information about the registered boat and its owner – ensuring a faster and more effective search and rescue response appropriate to vessel size. Outdated analogue beacons provided only a position to rescuers.

As an additional safety measure, any skipper going offshore should use their marine radio to alert the volunteer marine radio network with the details of the expected journey, and then log off on return.

For more information, go to http://www.maritime.nsw.gov.au/campaigns/406.html