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Boating Equipment That Will Keep You Safe In The Water

When planning a trip, make sure you always carry the right safety equipment and that it is in good working order. This means you must regularly inspect, service and update it. Safety equipment should be stored in easily accessible places and everyone aboard the boat should know where it is stored and how to use it correctly. These vital bits of safety equipment will keep you and your crew safe aboard your vessel.

1. Flares

Ensure that everyone on board knows where your flares are stored and how to use them by following the activation instructions. Only use in an emergency, and when you can actually spot a rescuer in the distance. Storage and Maintenance: Store your flares away in a dry place, away from fuel and anything combustible. Flares have a three-year use by date and need to be replaced prior to expiry. Put a reminder in your calendar so that you don’t forget. Ensure you safely dispose expired flares to avoid any unnecessary injury.

2. Fire Extinguishers

All boats should have a fire extinguisher, which corresponds to the type of fuel carried aboard the vessel. Storage and Maintenance: Your extinguisher should be maintained in accordance with AS 1851. Regular maintenance is required to ensure that the pressure gauge registers in the green “full” zone. Replace the extinguisher if in the red “empty” zone, or if appears to have been partially used. Periodically shake existing extinguisher to loosen the fire-retardant powder that can sometimes stick to the base of the container. 3. Bucket with Lanyard This simple and inexpensive bit of safety equipment is very useful in the event of a wood, paper or plastic fire (Do not use for electrical fires). The bucket can also be used for removing water out of a vessel in the event of flooding Storage and Maintenance: Check bucket for holes and ensure that the lanyard is long enough to safely lower the bucket over the side of the boat and fill with water.

3. Compass

All boats that are operating offshore must have a good marine compass, in the event of electronic equipment failure or damage. Extreme weather conditions can sometimes obstruct visibility and a magnetic compass will help you find your way in these harsh conditions. Storage and Maintenance: Store in an easily accessible area, dry and free from moisture. Do not store with metal objects (such as keys, mobile phones and watches) as these can deflect the magnetic needle


EPIRBs are necessary on board, as they can alert search and rescue services, if an emergency occurs. You may want to invest in an EPIRB which features a strobe light and GPS enhancement, to enable rescue services to more accurately locate you. EPIRB’s must conform with all relevant Australian and New Zealand standards (406 Mhz: Standard AS/NZS 4280.1), and must be registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Registration is free and simple online process via Re-registration is necessary every 2 years. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when testing an EPIRB. Storage and Maintenance: EPIRB’s should be stored in an accessible, sealed, waterproof container.

5. Life Jackets

Life jackets are one of the most important bits of safety equipment aboard your vessel, so it’s crucial that it remains in top condition and that it is the correct size for the person/s wearing it. Storage and Maintenance: Ensure longevity of your life jacket by periodically checking the fabric, buckles and floatation materials for any holes or damage. If you have an inflatable lifejacket, make sure it is serviced annually and that you check your CO2 cartridges. If damaged, too small (or too big), it might be time to invest in some new life jackets.

6. Marine radio

A radio must be on board a vessel if it is operating more than two nautical miles out to sea. This is to check weather conditions and navigational warnings, monitoring rescue operations, and to keep in touch with marine services and make distress calls in the event of an emergency. Ensure that your radio is suitable for its intended use (check with Australian Communication & Media Authority (ACMA) and always check that it works before you go out to sea. Keep your radio tuned into the Distress, Safety and Calling channel and ensure your Marine Radio Operator’s Handbook remains on the boat at all times. Storage and Maintenance: Undertaking regular maintenance on your radio will ensure that it is always functioning and that you can communicate with others in an emergency situation. Follow these tips when it comes to maintenance.

  • Check for corrosion on the antenna connection at the back of the radio unit and at the base of the antenna
  • Check that fuses or fuse holders are not corroded
  • Check that the battery is functioning and that terminals are not corroded.
  • Request a radio check procedure to confirm that all is working before embarking on a sea trip

7. Mobile Phone

A properly charged, functioning phone is an invaluable item aboard the boat and can help you find information on weather, tides and currents, act as a GPS, allow you to communicate with friends and make calls in the event of an emergency. While it shouldn’t replace the need for a radio or GPS, in an emergency you can use your mobile phone to call emergency services, as well as radioing for help. Storage and Maintenance: Keep charged in a dry place.

8. First Aid Kit

A first aid kit should be carried aboard your vessel, in the event of an accident or injury. Storage and Maintenance: Check the first aid kit every 3 months and replenish with new supplies as needed.

9. Waterproof buoyant torch

It makes common sense to keep a functioning and waterproof torch aboard the vessel to help you navigate your way at night. It also is a practical safety device used for signaling in times of distress. Storage and Maintenance: Regularly replace batteries and keep some spare ones on board Ensure that rechargeable batteries are charged. Periodically replace the batteries in your torch, EPIRB, and marine radio and keep a few extra spare ones aboard just in case. Enter reminders on your calendar

Be reminded of when it is time to update and track all your crew and vessel requirements, with the Ocean Time Marine Dashboard.

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