Centre for Maritime Safety

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Poor judgement

Be prepared for your day out on the water and make sure your vessel is suitable for the conditions.

If you make poor decisions while boating, it can have serious consequences. Poor judgement is a significant contributing factor in fatal and serious injuries and a priority issue in the Maritime Safety Plan. To be as safe as possible, and make the right decisions while on the water, it’s important to stay aware, maintain caution and always be considerate of other people using the waterways. Good judgment can take years of experience, so know your limits and avoid taking risks. Planning and preparation can help ensure you enjoy a safe day on the water. It’s your responsibility to keep everyone on board and in the water safe.

Tips to stay safe:

Your boat and equipment

  • Ensure you have enough safety equipment on board for you and your passengers, and it is in good working order, including lifejackets
  • For a great day on the water, make sure your vessel is suitable for the conditions
  • Choose a vessel that you have the ability and skills to effectively operate; build experience by starting off on calm quiet waterways and maybe taking a more experienced friend with you.

Before you head out

  • Tell someone where you are going and your estimated time of return
  • Check the weather and water conditions.

When you are out on the water

  • Always drive to the conditions so you have enough time to react to any sudden hazards
  • Always keep a safe distance from the shore, structures, other vessels and people in the water
  • Always keep a proper lookout; if keeping a good lookout becomes difficult or stressful it probably means you are driving too fast for the conditions – if so, slow down
  • Always check the weather while boating; know the sources of weather information and the signs of approaching bad weather when on the water
  • Judgement is about understanding how various safety factors interact with each other – for example, speed, other vessel traffic, weather and your vessel’s capabilities. If you are in doubt about your ability to deal with any of these, slow down, change location, change your vessel or avoid going out on the water.

More information

  • Follow the rules for safe and responsible boating on NSW waterways with the Boating Handbook.