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'Get lit' for safety after sundown on Hunter and Northern NSW waterways

by Emily Rundle 14 Nov 2020 07:59 UTC
Aquanima 40 - underwater and roof lights © Azura Marine

A boating enforcement blitz with a focus on safety after sundown starts today on waterways from Tweed Heads to Lake Macquarie and west to Orange.

NSW Maritime Executive Director Mark Hutchings said 'Operation Well Lit' will involve random checks of safety equipment on recreational vessels, with a focus on navigation lights.

"The risks are heightened when boating before dawn, after dusk and when you're offshore," Mr Hutchings said.

"During the past six months, NSW Maritime officers have reported an increase in recreational boating activity, possibly as a consequence of limitations on other recreational activity due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"This, coupled with daylight savings and warmer weather, means more people are on the waterways into the evening. We want to ensure everyone boating after dark is doing so safely."

Mr Hutchings said at night, every type of craft on the water needs lights in order to be seen.

"Whether you're paddling, rowing, sailing or motoring, everyone needs to be able to recognise where you are and what you're doing," he said.

"Swansea Channel, Lake Macquarie and Wallis Lake are popular with vessel operators scoop netting for prawns at night between November and April.

"Navigation lights may not be as bright as other lights and background lights may hide something that is closer.

"If you anchor at night, show an all round white light clearly visible through an arc of 360 degrees, where it can best be seen. Lights should be mounted in a position that gives the skipper optimum night vision and allow others to see you from every direction.

"You must also carry a working waterproof floating torch. It may help others to see you if you shine your torch on your sails or superstructure."

New and experienced boaters can refer to a lighting checklist which includes checking lights before heading out, when boating at night or during restricted visibility. Boaters are reminded to wear a lifejacket - don't risk your life.

Mr Hutchings said the ultimate aim was to reduce trauma on NSW waterways towards zero, in recognition that seven lives have been lost on NSW waterways since 1 July.

The two-day blitz will extend from sunset on Friday 13 November to sunset on Sunday 15 November.

For more information on night safety and lighting visit

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