Two boating emergencies highlight the importance of lifejackets

Two boating emergencies this weekend highlight the importance of lifejackets for boat safety.

Two separate marine emergencies on the weekend involved men overboard in extremely cold water and highlighted the critical need to wear lifejackets at sea.

Units of the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol, soon to become Marine Rescue NSW, were involved in searches at Port Stephens on the mid North Coast and Sussex Inlet on the mid South Coast.

At Port Stephens a man fell overboard from his fishing launch and spent almost four hours in the dark, treading water until spotted by a searching helicopter at 7:20am on Saturday. He was rescued suffering from hypothermia and exposure and taken to hospital.

At Sussex Inlet two men were in a small tinny that capsized late on Saturday. One man managed to swim to shore in the dark and raise the alarm. He was also suffering from severe hypothermia and taken to hospital. Two marine rescue vessels from Coastal Patrol volunteers at Sussex Inlet together with police vessels and helicopters continued the search for the survivor’s companion all night and throughout Sunday.

In both cases the men who were lucky enough to survive were not wearing lifejackets and were unlikely to have stayed afloat much longer. In both cases neither man is likely to have been expecting anything to go wrong with their simple, everyday plans for a bit of fishing – but it did.

The marine rescue volunteers know how quickly an emergency can occur. Each year volunteers in NSW attend to over 2,000 calls for help from people in some kind of trouble on the water – most of which were totally unexpected and too many of which put lives in grave danger.

In a timely move to remind boat owners and passengers about essential measures for safe boating, NSW Maritime launched a new safety campaign, “Boat for Life”, at the Sydney Boat Show last Friday, on the same day that Marine Rescue NSW was formally launched to the public.  The message to wear lifejackets is a key element of the “Boat for Life” campaign and is strongly endorsed by all volunteers.

The marine rescue volunteers of NSW urge skippers to remember their responsibility – to themselves, their passengers and their families – and help make every trip in their boat a safe one by ensuring everybody on board wears a lifejacket.

Visit the NSW Marine Rescue website

Visit the NSW Maritime website