Boaters urged to take it easy this Easter on NSW waters

2 April 2021

As Easter holidays begin, boaters are reminded to navigate with extra care as there is a lot more than water in most waterways across NSW.

NSW Maritime Executive Director Andrew Mogg said there was still a large amount of submerged and semi-submerged debris which presented potential safety hazards from recent flooding and heavy rain.

"The Easter period and school holidays are traditionally one of the busiest times on the water. We would ask for safety reasons that people think carefully before they go out, particularly in the hardest hit waterways such as the Hawkesbury," Mr Mogg said.

"We are still seeing a lot of debris including trees, large pieces of building materials, livestock, sofas and water tanks, swirling through the river system.

"There are literally hundreds of navigation markers which have been washed out of their location, meaning things like identified hazards and marked channels are currently not marked.

"Some of these are travelling an incredible distance. For example, this week we retrieved a starboard buoy from Watsons Bay after a massive 260 kilometre journey from the Manning River in northern NSW.

"To keep safe, skippers need to remember to use other means of navigating, such as maps and on board navigation systems in the meantime.

"As always, boaters are reminded to wear a lifejacket at all times - especially since the current conditions are presenting so many unknowns. A lifejacket can only save your life if you're wearing it."

"While the full audit of missing or out of location navigation markers is yet to be completed, we are expected more than 300 individual markers to need replacing or relocating.

"We have a lot of data in from northern rivers such as the Manning, Hasting, Clarence, Macleay, Tweed, Richmond, Nambucca, Bellingen and from Shoalhaven, Moruya and Pambula Lake in the south."

However, Mr Mogg said the continuing high water levels have prevented our crews from completing the full audit of the Hawkesbury River navigation aids - it is by far the worst affected waterway by this 1 in 100 year flood event.

"Due to the large amount of debris still circulating in the river system, a temporary speed limit of 15 knots will apply until Wednesday 14 April for all waters west of the Hawkesbury River Rail Bridge at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River, the Nepean River and their tributaries," he said.

NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers will be out in force during the Easter period and school holidays as part of Operation Afloat and Alert, with a focus on ensuring skippers are keeping a proper lookout and operating to the conditions, as well as ensuring boaters are adhering to lifejacket wear requirements and carrying enough lifejackets for everyone on board.

For more information on boating safety and lifejacket wear, visit the How to boat safely website.

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