Take some time to plan your trip. Is your boat suitable?

Have you checked charts and publications?

Is the boat safe?

Remember your general safety obligation - as master/skipper you are responsible for the safety of the boat and the people on board at all times. Regular boat maintenance and motor servicing are essential. Know your boat's:limits, stay within these limits. Know how to load and distribute the weight in your boat for maximum stability. Have the heaviest items placed centrally in a low position in the boat. Distribute passengers evenly around the boat.

Boat care and maintenance

As part of the general safety obligation it is the owner/operator's responsibility to ensure the boat is in a seaworthy condition and suitable for the trip.

Motor care:

Regular preventative maintenance and servicing by a qualified mechanic may avoid a breakdown at sea. Some of the causes for engine failure are minor, so you should be able to troubleshoot a problem.

Learn how to change the filter and primer bowl, clean and change spark plugs, check and replace fuses, and change the propeller. You should also carry spares on board whenever you go out.

Fuel system:

 Check for fuel fumes before starting engine/so Once a year the fuel tank should be cleaned with suitable cleaning solvent. Inspect the fuel tank for any cracks or corrosion.

Always replace old fuel with new fuel after periods of inactivity. Inspect fuel lines, manual priming bulb and connections for cracks and leaks. Clean out or replace the fuel filter.

Batteries:

Top up battery cells with distilled water and check each cell with a hydrometer. Ensure proper ventilation. If voltage is low, charge the battery at a rate that is suitable to the battery. The battery should never be overcharged. Batteries should always be secured in brackets. Terminals should be kept clean and greased regularly. Furthermore, conduct a general check of the boat before each trip.

Boat care:

Inspect the boat for corrosion, cracks and general wear and tear. Test steering gear for stiffness. Self draining holes must be kept clear -check drain flaps and lubricate if necessary. If LPG is fitted, ensure the system is regularly serviced. . Ensure bilges are clean and dry. Check for water and fuel leaks. Inspect anchor, shackles and ropes for any sign of wear and replace if necessary. Inspect safety equipment for any deterioration or ~amage (including expiry dates).

Tell someone where you are going:

Log your trip with Marine Rescue Victoria Point (VMR441). You will be asked to advise the vessel name, registration details, number of persons on board (POB), your destination, and your estimated time of return. Other useful information you could provide includes a description of your vessel and radio channels you intend to monitor.

You should also advise a family member or friend of your intended trip with an indication of when to advise authorities if you are not back. Failure to advise these details has contributed to a number of deaths in Queensland in recent years.

Weather -make the safe call:

Queensland's weather systems are changeable and unpredictable. Good weather is critical for a safe and comfortable trip. Forecasts should be obtained when planning a trip, before you leave and updated while you are out on the water.

Marine Safety Queensland's Weather Service provides weather information from the Bureau of Meteorology at the cost of a local phone call.

All of Queensland 1300360426

Marine Warnings 1300360427

South-East Queensland 1300 360 428

Information on current wind, cyclone and tsunami warnings can also be found on the Bureau of Meteorology website at www.bom.gov.au

See Marine Safety Queensland's website for more? information: www.msq.qld.gov.au