Former Australian test cricketer Matthew Hayden shakes his head as he remembers the now infamous incident a few years ago when his boat capsized and sank while attempting a bar crossing off Brisbane’s North Stradbroke Island.
It took Hayden, fellow cricketer Andrew Symonds and friend Trent Butler an hour to reach the shore, battling currents, shock and exhaustion. Hayden is keen to talk about the lessons learnt from this incident as spokesperson for the National Marine Safety Committee’s “Skipper Keep Your Eye on the Ball” campaign, which will run for the second year in a row during the 2009/10 summer boating season.
“Even though it was slightly embarrassing that we flipped over while crossing a bar, it is absolute gold in terms of lessons learnt for me,” Hayden said.
“This campaign is about understanding the importance of staying focused and concentrating at all times because out on the water, it only takes a split second for things to change and you can then find yourself in real trouble.”
According to the National Marine Safety Committee Half Yearly Update, during the six months ending June 2009, there were 713 reported commercial and recreational marine incidents resulting in 30 fatalities and 254 injuries. NMSC CEO Margie O’Tarpey explained that these statistics demonstrate the “keep your eye on the ball” message still needs to be reinforced to recreational boaters.
You’re the Skipper You’re Responsible – Trip Preparation
As the old scout motto goes, the key to safe boating is to “be prepared”. This checklist may come in handy next time you are planning your boating trip.
- Check sea conditions and weather information and adjust your plans accordingly
- Inform people ashore of the time you expect to arrive at your destination or return home
- Check your boats’ functioning before you go out on the water
- Make sure you have sufficient water and fuel
- Make sure that your boat is not overloaded
- Ensure you know what to expect on the waterway that you’re using. If in doubt, get information from locals or your local marine agency.
- Check that you have all the required safety equipment on board, that it is in good condition and easily accessible. Check that PFDs of a suitable type and size are available for all on board.
- Identify passengers with special needs, such as those unable to swim or those suffering from medical conditions.
- Inform all on board about the course of action in case of an emergency
- Don’t drink and drive – waves, wind and weather multiply the effects of alcohol.
Matthew Hayden highlights two important issues in relation to trip preparation.
- Always check your engine before you head out; make sure that your filter is nice and clean, well serviced. It is important that you ensure that your fuel is good quality and that the filters are replaced regularly.
- Always check your batteries before you head out.