Bright at night

Here we are, two weeks into winter. It’s probably dark when you get up and dusk seems to come very early. It’s time, says Transport for NSW boating safety office Nathan Adamson, to put navigation lights at the head of your list when it comes to thinking about the commute from the bays or the island to Church Point and back again.

Nathan has spent a few mornings before dawn on the water to advise people that they really must have their nav lights in working order – and turned on. After warnings and cautions come penalties.

People need to know that even if they are travelling only a short distance there is the potential for danger, Nathan says. Something may go wrong with your boat and others may be travelling quickly. You need to be able to be seen. “Those short distances – it’s still very important. Everyone needs to be bright at night,” says Nathan.

He said commuters should have a good torch as a standby in case of a sudden loss of power. “If the lights don’t work, you need to make an effort. You’re aware of the problem and are not a hazard to others.”

The rules are simple: lights must be on from sunset to sunrise and at times of restricted visibility, such as when there is fog, smoke or glare.

It’s also worth thinking about speed when considering matters of safety on the water. Nathan reminds commuters that a speed of 6 knots or less is the rule when a powered vessel is less than 30m from a moored or anchored vessel, structures including jetties, bridges and navigation markers, and the shore. (The distance from swimmers must be at least 60m.)

Photos courtesy Sara Nimmo

That essentially means that while going through the moorings in Elvina Bay, Lovett Bay and near Church Point your speed must be 6 knots or less. But always keep an eye out for the speed signs: sometimes you will see a sign indicating you must travel no faster than 4 knots, such as in the tidal flats of Salvation Creek and Morning Bay.

Comparing knots to land activities and other speed measurements.

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