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Boating safety accessories
  |  First Published: September 2014



When we think about our fishing and boating expenditure, it’s usually all about the latest and greatest rods, reels, tackle and lures. If you have a boat, maybe you dream about the latest marine electronics or a flash new outboard.

Not many of us devote a lot of thought to our safety gear and the bits and pieces that, hopefully, you’ll never have to use. The truth is, however, that you would be extremely glad to have them if things ever got nasty. So we’ve done some of the thinking for you and gathered a collection of products that you might like to have kicking around when the chips are down...

EPIRBS

With luck, you’ll never have to use your Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). However, when you do have to flick the switch on it, you’ll want to know that yours is in-date, well maintained and built to work when you need it.

FLARES

Although it can be a pain in the butt to constantly ensure that your safety flares are in date, you’ll love that they’re as good as gold if you ever need to relay your position to a spotter plane or search boats.

Drop your old ones off at your local VMR or Coast Guard and keep your new ones in a watertight container that’s easily accessible in an emergency.

LIFEJACKETS

We all like to think that we’re Ian Thorpes in the water, but the reality is that if you’re treading water for any length of time – particularly clothed – you’ll fatigue very quickly.

Well maintained Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) are not worn nearly often enough in this country. Personally, I reckon that you should have them on at all times the boat is under outboard power and any time you’re boating or fishing alone – regardless of what the regulations say about boat size.

While I’m on the subject, if you don’t use your outboard kill-switch when you’re driving a boat, you’re mad. The last thing anyone wants is to fall out of a boat you’re driving and have it do a circle and repeatedly try to run you over. Wear it.

MARINE RADIOS

If you don’t log in to your local Coast Guard as you head offshore, you’re crazy – and you’ll need a decent marine radio and the training to use it. It’s so important when you’re offshore that a lot of guys fit their boat with two – 27mHz and VHF.

LIGHTING

If you’re boating between dusk and dawn you’ll need nav lights that are legal – and that includes a white anchor light on a pile the right height to give you 360 degree visibility. The emergence of LED technology makes nav lights (and trailer lights) much more reliable and trouble-free.

And a quality spotlight is just as useful in a rescue situation as it is finding that missing crab pot.

BATTERIES

A lot of marine breakdowns are battery-related. We load up the cranking battery with so many electronic devices that sometimes they simply just get flattened. Modern batteries are clever – some lithium ones are smart enough to turn themselves off and save enough charge to start an outboard when they are getting drained to their limit. Regardless, keeping your battery new and charged solves a lot of potential problems.

FUEL SEPARATION AND OPTIMISATION

Bad fuel, old fuel, the wrong fuel – we’ve seen it all. It doesn’t like water in it, it doesn’t like sitting there for a year and there are products that you can get which can help in all these situations.

Today's outboards motors are a significant financial investment and in these modern times extending engine life, improving efficiency and improving performance is becoming more important. For too long marine outboards have relied on basic fuel filtration. As any outboard mechanic will testify, finer particles and water emulsion will evade the capabilities of basic filtration, exposing the engine to accelerated wear which contributes to loss of power and loss of economy.

A dedicated water-separating fuel filter assembly is the best way to ensure the right fuel quality is delivered to your outboard motor all the time, and a clear inspection bowl helps you monitor the overall quality of the fuel coming from your tank.

Also, a funnel that can separate, instantly, a litre of fuel from a litre of water might seem expensive, but wait till you need it. You’ll want to marry it.

JUMP STARTERS

A pocket-sized jump-starter in the glove box is a great way to treat the symptoms of bad battery management. Push a button, hook it up and presto: outboard started. You can also use them to charge your phones and other devices.

ANCHORS

If you’re having dramas near a river bar on the outgoing tide, then you’ll want to make sure that you’ve got the right anchor for the job. It needs to be able to stop your craft from drifting in several knots of nasty chop and current. Does yours fit the bill right now? Be honest.

INSURANCE/GEAR PROTECTION

In worst-case-scenario, you want to know that your pride and joy is covered. Insurance might seem painful – until you need it. There are more and more players moving into the marine market and it pays to check out the fine print. What will they do for you when all goes to hell? Do a bit of reading and find out.

ESKIES

Don’t laugh. Plenty of people have been saved – literally – by their floating esky! And of course, they have the added bonus of keeping your food, drinks, bait and catch cool. We’ve even heard the story about an angler paddling to shore holding on to his floating camera box.

FIRST-AID KITS

Do you have one on board? Is it fully stocked? DO you know how to use what’s in it? Is it in a waterproof container?

TRAINING AND LICENCING

Of course, the best way to be fully prepared is to have the correct training. From obtaining your boat licence to marine radios to first-aid courses, you’ll be much more prepared to deal with a nasty situation if you have the confidence of experts teaching you how it should be done.

In the following pages, there’s a selection of relevant products that you may want to know about. They may save your life one day.

GME EPIRBS

In both the commercial marine and recreational environments, EPIRBs are an essential safety device. They are often the only means to alert rescue authorities in a life threatening situation so it’s critical that before heading out for a day’s fishing you check that this indispensable piece of life-saving equipment is in good working order.

Firstly check the battery hasn’t expired. The expiry date is clearly indicated on the side of the EPIRB.

Beacon manufacturers around the world strongly suggest that their EPIRBs are tested on a monthly basis. To test a GME EPIRB:

• Remove the EPIRB from its mounting bracket;

• Lift the cover marked ‘LIFT’;

• Momentarily press the yellow “test” button; and

• Close the cover.

A successful test will result in the light flashing, and an audible double beep.

If you have any concerns regarding the test result or the integrity of your EPIRB, immediately contact your marine electronics supplier for advice.

If you’re in the market for a new EPIRB, consider upgrading to a GPS-equipped model. GPS-equipped EPIRBs provide significant advantages including emergency signal detection within minutes and position accuracy of around 100m. Authorities will be able to determine your location faster and reach you sooner. It could save your life.

To view the full GME range of EPIRBS log onto www.gme.net.au.

LASER FLARES

Rescue Laser Flares are a worthy addition to pyrotechnic kit. The Greatland’s Rescue Lasers (from RRP $149) are available at SOS Marine, and are designed to signal in an emergency by creating a line of light.

Point the compact Rescue Laser Flare at a wall and you’ll see a short line. Point and slowly sweep it toward a passing boat or aircraft and the line is 3.600ft high (1097.28m) at 17km, appearing as a brilliant flash of light. Best of all, Rescue Lasers last for hours, are environmentally safe, and there is no fire hazard where pyrotechnic flares burn for 40 seconds.

The Rescue Laser Flare can also be used to detect reflective material on lifejackets, channel markers, and other objects up to 1.7km away. When the laser line is scanned over any reflective element it produces a bright flash of light.

SOS Marine has pioneered marine safety equipment for over 30 years and supplies safety equipment to 12 defence forces world-wide. For more information visit www.sosmarine.com or email --e-mail address hidden--

WATERSCREEN NANO

WaterScreen specialises in marine fuel filters. Their expertise has resulted in them becoming a leading manufacturer of premium marine fuel filters and a number one choice of water-separating fuel filter for your outboard motor.

WaterScreen's latest innovation is the Nano fuel filter assembly. The fuel flow through the Nano is similar to that of the larger WaterScreen filter assemblies. The Nano will separate water on the run, making the Nano unique in the market.

Other small filters will filter particles and yet fail to separate the water out, relying on gravity assistance or sedimentation to get the water out of the system. The Nano opens the way to class-leading filtration for all boats. Not only does it fit into smaller spaces, but it makes for a better looking and neater installation.

The Nano’s exclusive, high-tech 10 micron filter media technology is specifically designed for today’s complex fuel blends. The fuel filter grade offers higher flow characteristics and efficiencies, better water separation and improved dirt holding capacity. This media protects your engine against the dangers of unwanted particle contaminants in the highly-tuned tolerances of the fuel system, which contribute to a loss of power, economy, and accelerated engine wear. WaterScreen delivers optimum protection and optimum performance. Check out all the specs at www.marinewarehouse.com.au/waterscreen.

BOAT AND PWC COURSES

Maritime and Safety Training NSW is recognised by NSW Roads and Maritime Services as an accredited training provider. The course takes three to four hours. When you have successfully completed a comprehensive General Boat and/or PWC (jetski) safety training program you will be awarded a Certificate of Successful Completion. Presentation of your certificate along with the licence fee and completed logbook to NSW Roads and Maritime qualifies you for a General Boat or PWC (jetski) licence.

You can complete your logbook by either doing three trips with a friend who has held their General Boat Licence for at least three years and complete the activities listed, or do one trip on board a MAST training vessel.

The exam consists of 40 multiple choice questions, and if you fail the first attempt you can make other attempts (and attend optional seminars) at no charge.

The General Boat Licence seminar and test is $95 for adults, $75 for a Young Adult Licence (12 – 15 years old) and

$75 for pension card holders. On-board practical training is $125. A PWC Licence seminar and test is $65 (no log book required) but you need to have fulfilled the requirements for the General Boat Licence first. The General Boat and PWC Seminar and Exam can be completed at the same time.

For more info visit www.powerboating.com.au/courses/boat-jetski-course or call 1300 302 123.

MR FUNNEL

When you’re next re-fuelling your boat, ask yourself this: how safe is the fuel and will it offer you and your crew a safe return? Dirt and water are practically unavoidable in stored fuel in Australia, causing components like filters to become clogged, decreasing combustion efficiency and causing engine shutdown or system failure. The US Army has been using the US-made Mr Funnel product for years, which makes perfect sense when operating in volatile environments where water, sand, dirt and contaminated fuels might jeopardize a safe return.

Mr Funnel products can save you thousands of dollars in repair bills by catching fuel contaminants like water and debris BEFORE they enter your fuel tank. Many articles have been written about ethanol, which likes to absorb water. Take away the water and you’ll eliminate the chance of damage to your engine.

Mr Funnel products are self-cleaning and have no replacement parts. They comes in four sizes and can be used for petrol, diesel, two-stroke, kerosene and any other hydrocarbons. Each size has a specific flow rate for the job at hand. The black model is carbon injected when moulded to mitigate against static build up during the fuelling process, while the tough stainless steel filter mesh is coated with Teflon, preventing contaminants obstructing the flow while fuelling.

Log onto Mrfunnelaustralia.com.au to view the entire product range.

EVIE INFLATABLE PFD

The EVIE N150 automatic inflatable lifejacket is light and simple to wear and doesn't restrict movement. You can enjoy your fishing and at the same time be safer and more visible. Once activated, the reflective tape can be seen from a considerable distance away, especially at night under spotlight. The EVIE can also be activated manually via a pull-chord and comes with a rescue whistle.

For all-day wear, the EVIE includes a soft neck protector avoiding the irritation of nylon rub. An additional feature of this lifejacket is a clear plastic pocket so that you can easily slip in a label with your vessel's name and registration.

The recommended retail price is $69.95 and you can find out more at www.skippersmate.com.au.

Super Mini Booster

Imagine being out from port and your batteries run flat? Imagine an awesome snapper bite that sees you out until dusk and the cabin lights drain your battery? What do you do?

To get you out of trouble, the answer is simple: you have a portable emergency power pack, the Super Mini Booster, on your boat at all times. The Super Mini Booster is the smallest, most powerful jump start pack in its class, weighing only 4.8kg. Delivering 1200 amps instantaneously giving you 400CCA cranking when need it to get you out of trouble, it also has an incredibly fast recharge thanks to its long-life battery.

With the ability to start engines up to 7.0L V8 petrol and 4.5L diesel 12V engines, your boat’s cranking battery is no challenge at all to the Super Mini Booster.

This little unit comes complete with a low charge warning light, two super bright LEDs and a 12V auxiliary outlet that provides 12V/80W to charge mobile phones, run motorised 12V reels and trailer winches, spot lights, fridge freezers, plus power when you need it.

The Super Mini Booster is available at all leading marine/auto/battery/caravan and RV outlets. The RRP is $299.95 and more info is available at www.superminibooster.com (to become a recommended stockist, contact Steve Moore on 1300 136 413).

OCEAN SIGNAL COMPACT EPIRB

Ocean Signal has released the world’s most compact EPIRB to the market and it features a 30% reduction in size compared with other EPIRBs, without any loss of the vital functions.

Supplied with integrated GPS as standard, it also guarantees that fast and accurate positioning information is transmitted to the authorities in the event of an emergency. The new rescueME EPIRB1 measures 178mm by 89mm and weighs only 422g. It is manually activated and can be easily retained within its manual release bracket or placed in an emergency grab bag or life raft.

This unit communicates the location in three ways, ensuring fast location and recovery and ultimately survival. And with a 10-year battery life, the rescueME is further supported by a five-year warranty and can operate in temperatures from -20°C through to 55°C. The recommended retail price is $395, and you can find out more at www.allsat.com.au .

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are an ideal safety device for anyone on the water that does not require an EPIRB. They are small, easy to store on your person or on a lifejacket, can save you in an emergency and, best of all, will notify emergency services as soon as you pull the trigger. Remote creeks, large lakes and estuaries or even inland waterways a long way from civilization; they’re ideal for a PLB.

Mini Jump Starter Even Smaller

Weighing in at only 210 grams, the latest version of the popular Mini Jump Starter – the PowerSLIM is small and light enough to store in the smallest nook and cranny in the boat. Pushing out 300 cold cranking amps of power, though, it’ll jump start motors up to 5 litre V8s.

This means that there’s virtually no outboard that it won’t kick to life when your battery dies.

Smaller and lighter than the original Mini Jump Starter PowerBLOCK, the unit features a USB port and is supplied with a multi-function squid-style cable array that will charge anything from smart phones to laptops.

Available in four colours, the Mini Jump Starter PowerSLIM costs $144.95 with free shipping from www.minijumpstarter.com

RescueME PLB1

Easy to use and 30% smaller than other personal locator beacons (PLB), the rescueME PLB1 is suitable for a range of activities and will provide a level of safety unparalleled in its field.

The rescueME PLB1 easily fits into a lifejacket and has a retractable antenna making the package non-obtrusive. A 7 year battery life is supported by a 7 year warranty giving you longevity when you need it. A 1 candela strobe light makes location easy while the 66 channel GPS receiver means you are always going to be located, wherever you may find yourself in need of help.

Wherever you are at sea or on land, the rescueME PLB1 provides the reassurance that emergency services can be alerted by the press of a button. Simple and effective.

RRP: $399

www.allsat.com.au

Jaunt Safety Gear Bag

The Jaunt safety gear bag contains a comprehensive collection of all the safety gear you require for recreational boating, all in one easy to grab gear bag.

Often safety gear gets distributed to all parts of the boat, various nooks and favourite hide holes. This does make it harder to keep track of your required safety gear as well as making it harder to keep it in good operational condition. The gear bag is perfect for trailerable boats, allowing you to conveniently remove your safety gear for storage when required.

The safety pack includes, 4 Jaunt Level 100 PFDs, 2 paddles (not shown), current inshore flare kit, V sheet, signal mirror, waterproof torch with batteries and of course, the Jaunt Gear bag. The weatherproof Jaunt gear bag is a great traveller, it features an insulated cooler at one end, vented mesh pouch as well as a wet gear pouch and a pen and phone holder. Shoulder and hand straps make it a perfect overnighter/travel bag.

More Information: www.marinewarehouse.com.au.

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