IT'S holiday time and with extra traffic on waterways up and down the coast, Marine Rescue NSW has reminded boaters to make safety on the water their top priority this summer.
Ballina volunteer rescue boat skipper Tony Handcock has been with the service more than six years and had these tips for locals:
"Firstly, if in doubt don't go out," he said.
"It's also important to remember to look out for the Burns Point Ferry. People often dart in and around the ferry when it's in motion. The speed limit around the ferry is 5 knots and Maritime Services are policing that now."
As for the notorious Ballina bar, Mr Handcock said it was better to cross the bar on the incoming tide.
"People should also keep their boats well maintained, especially the batteries, and make sure their fuel is fresh," he said.
MRNSW has also released its Top 10 Summer Boating Safety Check List designed to help boaters ensure they are well prepared for an enjoyable and safe outing:
Tell your local Marine Rescue radio base when you go out and when you'll be back. Log on with your marine radio so MRNSW knows you're out there and log off to let us know you're back.
Wear your lifejackets. Lifejackets save lives - but only when you wear them.
Travel at a safe speed and keep a good lookout. A safe speed is one at which you can stop quickly in an emergency. A good lookout means the skipper is always aware of conditions around the boat.
Check your mechanicals and electricals before you go. More breakdowns are caused by mechanical and electric faults than any other cause. See www.50pointcheck.com.au for the Boating Industry Association safety check.
Check your safety equipment before you go. This includes lifejackets; marine radio; anchor and chain or line (attached to the boat); emergency flares; EPIRB if going out 2 nautical miles or further; bailing bucket; fire bucket; fire extinguisher; navigation lights, orange V-sheet; and waterproof torch. Smart skippers will also have first aid and tool kits on board.
Make sure your fuel is fresh. Old fuel causes serious problems that can leave you stranded at sea. This is a common problem with fuel tanks for outboards.
Call your local Marine Rescue radio base for a radio check. The Marine Rescue operator will tell you if your radio signal is strong and clear, so if it's not you can fix it before you need it.
Check the weather forecast before you go. Go to www.bom.gov.au first, then listen for weather updates on your marine radio or call your local Marine Rescue base for the latest information.
Know your position. If you break down or another emergency strikes, we need to know where you are. If you don't know where you are, it's hard for help to reach you.
Take extreme care crossing bars. Do not attempt to cross a bar you've never crossed before without getting local advice. Then prepare and plan your crossing. If in doubt, don't go out.
For information go to www.marinerescuensw.com.au.