Boating Safety Tips | Dangers To Watch Out For

Boat Safety Tips

Boating is a great way to whittle away the weekend’s hours, and is a favourite pastime for Australians. But to remain safe, there’s common dangers that people must be aware of, and in this article, we’ll provide some simple boating safety tips by exploring hazards that you should keep your eye on.

Submerged rocks

One of the easiest ways to wreck your boat is to ride it over submerged rocks, and unfortunately, it’s easily done. As tides alter water levels, sharp rocks that were previously visible can dip below the water, waiting to tear into your boat and even turn you over.

To avoid the hazard of submerged rocks, keep an eye on the surface of the water for unusual wave patterns, and if possible, use a marine chart to track them. Many boat radars also show raised areas of land underneath the water, so keep on eye on this too.

Rip currents

Australia has powerful rip currents, which in summer, are estimated to kill someone every two to three days1. Bondi Rescue would never have been made if our rip currents weren’t so ferocious, and boats can also become prey to the fast-flowing water that lurks underneath the surface. You may have found the perfect fishing spot, and after happily sinking your third tinny, look around to find that your boat has drifted towards a patch of jagged rocks waiting to pierce its hull.

To avoid strong currents, try to become familiar with the currents in your local area. You can access current tables online and get a better understanding of whether you’re putting yourself and your boat in danger.

Quickly changing weather

Weather is the most obvious hazard for boating, but plenty of people get caught out by it. The sky can be bright blue and cloudless in the morning, and within a few hours, be filled with dark grey clouds and whipping winds. Keep a wary eye on the weather forecast before you decide to take your boat out—if there’s a storm coming, stay home for your own safety.

Electrical safety

Water and electricity are a notoriously bad partnership, and given that most boats contain some kind of electrical equipment, it’s critical that everything is in good condition.

To make sure your boat’s electrics are secure, you’ll want to check its wiring and insulation for signs of wear, rust, and damage. Naked electrical wiring is dangerous by itself, but if it gets splashed while you’re close to it, you might be in for a shock.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is produced when carbon-based fuel is burned. It’s colourless, odourless, and when inhaled in large amounts, deadly. It’s particularly dangerous for covered boats, as it can accumulate inside the cabin. It can also be a problem for swimmers who spend too much time around the engine.

The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to the do the following:

  • Get your engine regularly inspected and maintained by a mechanic
  • If you have a cabin on your boat, always keep windows open
  • Make sure people don’t swim around the engine


  1. Amy Simmons, 2010, Rips: Australia’s biggest ocean killer, ABC News
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