Summer in Australia provides plenty of great opportunities to get your boat out onto the water. There is New Years Eve, Australia Day and of course our long, hot summer days to take advantage of.
The water gets busier during this season, so make sure you stay sensible and follow these tips to have an enjoyable day or night out:
Prepare the boat
Making sure your boat is in top condition should be the first thing on the to do list. New Years Eve or any other holiday celebration will not be much fun if your boat isn’t working at her best.
Start by getting some good detailing accessories and giving the entire boat a thorough clean. You should clean your boat often to keep it in the best possible shape, but if it has been in storage over winter it is a good idea to give it an extra good detailing.
Before you hit the water, also make sure the electronics, safety gear, radio equipment, lights and motor are all in good working condition.
While you are going over your boat, be sure to check supplies such as how many life jackets you have on board, flares and all other safety supplies. When it comes to your day out, make sure you have plenty of sunscreen, hats, a first aid kit and of course lots of water to stay well hydrated.
Choose a designated driver
This is a bit of a no-brainer, but it is also the most important thing to do once you decide on a celebration out on the water. You need to have a designated driver of the boat. Just like in a car, you absolutely cannot have an intoxicated person driving the boat; it is extremely dangerous and also highly illegal. So agree on a designated driver and make sure everyone is clear on who the chosen person is.
It is usually a good idea to have a second person nominated to be a back-up designated driver just in case anything goes wrong, or in case the first person needs some help in rough weather.
Check your license is updated
If the designated driver isn’t the owner of the boat and hasn’t been out on the water in a while, make sure they check their license and see that it is up to date before you leave the shore. You wouldn’t want to be halfway out to sea only to discover their license has lapsed, or be pulled over by the water police before realising.
Create a float plan
Even if your plan is simply to find a spot on the harbour for the fire works or to stay in one place on another big day out, still tell someone who is at home or in a marina what your plans are. Let them know what time you are expecting to be coming back in to shore, so they will know to sound the alarm if you are overdue. Include other details such as how many people you expect to have on board as well as their names and phone numbers.
Any time you are taking a boat out onto the water you need to be vigilant with safety and being responsible. On a busy day or night such as New Years Eve or Australia Day, it is even more important than ever to have your wits about you. Be mindful of where you drop your anchor, making sure it isn’t too close to other boats, and take note of the weather forecast. Also be aware of the changed conditions on the water when there could be literally hundreds of boats, big and small, sailing within close vicinity.
Being on the water and alcohol don’t mix. Of course it’s fine to have a drink or two while enjoying the fire works and the atmosphere, but if you’re planning a big drinking session it’s best if you stay on dry land. There are too many things that can go wrong if you are intoxicated while on the water.
In many areas, on the big nights like New Years Eve there will be special rules and restrictions in place for the night. You will also likely need a permit to take your boat into certain areas, and sometimes these sell out months in advance.
If you are planning on taking your boat onto Sydney Harbour for the fireworks, you’ll need to check the restrictions that are in place. For example, there is a slower than usual speed limit and there are areas that turn into exclusion zones after a certain time. You are not allowed to just come and go as you please, so if you are planning on leaving after the 9pm fireworks you’ll need to gather in the special marshalling area so you can leave with an escort at a specified time.
In other places, such as in Brisbane, there are further rules such as needing to be anchored by 5pm and not allowed to move again until 1am.
Stay the night
Why not relax with a few drinks and make sure you don’t have somewhere you have to be. Trying to leave the Harbour or other busy areas at the same time as everyone else can be a daunting experience, so if you don’t feel you are quite up to that level of boating, anchor in and sleep it off for a night or two. That way, you can leave when you’re ready and when the water is a bit less crowded.Hitting the water on one of our big event days over summer is one of the great ways to celebrate and appreciate the beautiful weather we have in Australia. Enjoy the water and when you come home, take the time to wash and detail your boat thoroughly so it is ready for the next time you want to take it out.