Boaters need to be water smart as warm weather beckons

Tuesday 22 October, 2019

Warmer weather is seeing increasing numbers of boating enthusiasts enjoying Victoria’s lakes, dams and reservoirs – but they need to prepare and be mindful of risks on the water.

Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) and Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) are urging recreational users to take note of vital safety reminders for boating or paddling at Lake Eildon, Lake Eppalock and the state’s other popular inland lakes and rivers.

“The main purpose of GMW’s lakes, dams and reservoirs is to capture, store and release water to customers but they are also great places to visit for boating and recreation,” GMW General Manager Water Storages Martina Cusack said.

“We hope these important reminders will better prepare visitors for a safe day on the water.”

Ms Cusack encouraged visitors to take heed of the following advice: 

  • For safe boat launching - Use public boat ramp facilities provided, to avoid soil disturbance and vehicle bogging incidents in lake foreshore areas.
  • There is a greater danger when operating vessels at low water levels - Be aware of submerged objects like rocks, sandbars, trees and other debris.
  • Ensure you do a weather check – Be aware that foggy and/or stormy conditions can lead to poor boat visibility on the water. High winds are dangerous and can lead to a boat capsizing.
  • Get your vessel ready for the season - Service your motor and replace stale fuel before your first trip out. Ensure your battery will reliably get you home at the end of the day.
  • Be aware that Victorian waters remain cold year-round – Remember wearing your lifejacket on the outside of clothing is critical to your survival, and you need to be able to call for help.

On inland Victorian waters a five-knot speed limit applies at any water level within 50m  (except where otherwise indicated) of the water’s edge, other vessels, people in the water, fixed or floating structures and other water users.

“Any temporary speed restrictions are signposted at public boat ramps. At all other times you should travel at a safe speed for the water level and conditions,” Ms Cusack said.

“People also need to be aware of NSW water rules while enjoying the River Murray. Even if you are from Victoria and have a Victorian boat licence, NSW rules apply to activities on the River Murray.

“It’s essential you have all required safety equipment ready – and lifejackets should be top of the list."

MSV’s Gareth Johnson says before setting out, make sure you tell friends and family where you are going, when you expect to return to shore and what to do if you don't.

“Before you head out on the water work out how you can raise the alarm if it becomes necessary," Mr Johnson said.

“Always wear your lifejacket and consider carrying a personal location beacon (PLB) or emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and flares even if you are not required to do so under the regulations."

Visitors to GMW water storages are also reminded of the ‘carry-in, carry-out’ rule for all rubbish.

“If you bring it with you, then take it home with you. We rely on visitors doing the right thing, so that our water storages remain clean and beautiful places to visit,” Ms Cusack said.

“Our year-round Water Smarts campaign is a great place to look for safety advice while visiting GMW-managed water storages,” Ms Cusack said.

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Read the MSV’s advice for boaters and paddlers at: