During the summer holidays, droves of people congregate at the coast and around dams to take advantage of the good weather and enjoy some swimming and other water sports. However, it’s also a period fraught with danger – as the National Sea Rescue Institute points out. During the 2015/2016 festive season, for example, there were 22 fatal drownings in South Africa. Before you head out on the waters with family and friends, take a moment to read our power guide to ski boat safety…
South African ski boat regulations
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) lists general requirements for sport and recreational boats operating on inland waters, such as rivers and dams, as well as for recreational boats less than 24 meters in length operating at sea. Do take note of these safety rules:
- Owners are required to possess a buoyancy certificate as per Marine Notice No. 8 of 2012
- The ski boat must have an annual certificate of fitness issued through a SAMSA–accredited institution
- The water craft must be marked with an approved number, administered through a water sporting body
- The vessel must be operated by a certified skipper with a minimum of an R-licence for sheltered inland waters, or a Category C for coastal waters less than 15 nautical miles from the shoreline
- The ski boat must carry a tow line, anchor, as well as appropriate and required safety equipment according to the vessel’s category and type.
Ski boat safety tips
Remember, as the skipper, you are responsible for the safety of your passengers, as well as that of people in other water craft and in the water. Use your ski boat in a safe and sensible manner by:
- Never consuming alcohol before or whilst operating your ski boat – alcohol consumption is a leading contributor to drowning and other boating accidents, like collisions or running aground
- Ensuring that the boat has adequate fuel and additional fuel reserves before launching
- Being aware of ‘NO WAKE ZONES’ – only speeding up once past shoreline or harbour line buoys
- Driving the boat responsibly at all times and not exceeding the speed safety limit
- Never transporting more persons than the maximum allowed on the ski boat
- Ensuring there are enough life jackets for you and each passenger, and that everyone wears them when onboard, in case of capsizing or falling overboard
- Checking the condition of ski/tow ropes
- Ensuring that passengers water skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, etc., are wearing approved life jackets
- Observing passengers being towed behind the ski boat
- Displaying a 500 millimetre red flag in an upright position to alert other vessels when passengers are preparing to ski, or when a skier is down in the water
- Immediately reducing speed when a skier is down, and retrieving them from the water as soon as you can.
Tips for Avoiding Boating Accidents
With regular maintenance, your ski boat will keep its good looks, perform well and provide you and your family with years of fun. Not only that, but maintaining a boat in peak condition helps prevent boating accidents and mishaps – just like cars on the road, poorly maintained boats are a hazard on the water. Remember to:
- Check the boat’s fuel and oil levels before starting the engine. Drain old fuel or add a fuel cleaner and stabiliser.
- Check the boat’s propeller for any signs of damage
- Check for any loose wires, worn or damaged parts
- To prevent corrosion and staining, clean and wipe your boat after use, especially if it’s been in sea water
- Drain any water from the engine after use
- Change engine filters and oil, and lubricate bearings and seals once a year
- When not in use, protect your boat from harsh UV rays with a good quality boat cover.
Natal Power Boats wishes you and your family a fun and incident-free holiday! For expert advice on boating and boating safety, and to stock up on the necessary boating accessories, come on down to our showroom…