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Watersports safety

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In a recent You Tube video I watched a wakeboarder wipe out into a wooden piling while being towed. The fact that he was not concentrating and the boat driver was also distracted were the primary causes of this accident and could have been avoided. Whether or not the rider, crew or other boaters were at fault, a friend of mine lost a leg after an unsighted power boater rode directly over him and the propeller did serious damage to his foot. We all like to enjoy a day on our boats, but we all need to boat safely. Here are some boating tips to point you in the right direction.

COMPLETE CLEARANCE

Stay at least 150 metres from other boaters, docks, pilings, moored boats. In smaller bodies of water, which are often more highly populated with boats, swimmers and other obstacles, reduce clearance to about 60 metres.

COLLECTING SKIERS

Collecting downed skiers or wakeboarders should be done by approaching them downwind on the helm side of the craft offering the skipper the best possible sight during the collection. If you approach the skier upwind there is a chance the boat can drift into or over the skier in the water.

WEIGHTY ISSUES

Ballast includes the weight of your crew and adding extra ballast in excess of the maximum weight designated by the capacity plate could spell disaster or a boat that handles very poorly.

SWITCH OFF

It is never a good idea to leave the engines running when in close proximity to a downed skier. Turn the engines off when picking up or deploying tubers, skiers and wakeboarders.

LESS THROTTLE

Yes, we know that it can be fun to get Uncle Sidney to do a face-plant on the water when you jam the throttle forward but it’s dangerous and every year there are numerous accidents that occur because of this type of behaviour.

QUICK TIPS FOR TOWING

• Have an observer on the boat.
• Make sure the observer and skier know the hand signals to communicate properly.
• Skiers, tubers and wakeboarders should wear approved PFDs.
• Boaters should familiarise themselves with the particular hazards found at the body of water they are using.
• Never tow at night.
• Never start the motor when anyone is near the propeller.
• Make sure the skier or tuber is a safe distance from the shoreline.
• Be vigilant for other boats.
• Always respond to the hand signals from the skier.
• Any other boat movements need to be conveyed via the spotter on the boat to the skier to alert him of these changes.

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