Providing useful tips and precautions for holiday makers, who take to the water for recreational activities over the festive season, South African Maritime Safety Association safety inspector Imraan Davis calls on all users to obey the rules and regulations as they are there to ensure water safety. PHOTO: Kim van Zyl

PORT ELIZABETH - As more people head to their holiday destinations over the festive season, the South African Maritime Safety Association (Samsa) has issued a set of dos and don'ts to ensure water safety.

Calling on parents not to allow underage and uncertified minors to navigate boats or other sailing vessels at all, Samsa said children navigating vessels as well as navigating under the influence of alcohol or drugs were the main causes of boating mishaps on South Africa’s dams and seas.

While sailing accidents are not as high as road accidents, everyone should head the rules and regulations for water safety, Samsa safety inspector, Imraan Davis said.

"Respect water and the water will respect you.” 

He said the blood alcohol level for operating a vessel was the same for road users - 0.05g per 100ml.

Davis said that boat owners should ensure that their vessels were licensed and that their skipper certificates were in good order, adding that they should verify with local authorities what water activities were allowed on the dams in the areas they were visiting.

“You can only water-ski if the local authority allows it. Holidaymakers must also establish what type of water activities are allowed,” Davis said.

South Africa has several major dams and bodies of water which are magnets for boaters including Vaal, Loskop, Bronkhorstspruit, Hartebeespoort, Club Mykonos and the Knysna Lagoon.

Although there is no speed limit for sailors, Davis said sailors, skippers should be responsible and obey the rules. 

“These rules are in place to ensure the safety of everyone on the water. Samsa wants everyone to have an enjoyable and safe holiday, which is why we are urging anyone who will be spending time on the water this summer to behave in a responsible manner,” he said.

Other safety tips for water users include making sure there are the right number of approved jackets on the vessels, ensuring the vessel is in good working condition, ensuring that there is proper ventilation, checking weather forecasts and having an observer on board to monitor those involved in water-skiing.

He also urged those operating vessels to use the water space with consideration for other users and to report bad behaviour of other users.

He said it was important to inform local authorities, family and boat clubs of any trips they were going to make, and to inform them of any vessel that seems lost or abandoned, stranded or damaged, or which has caused serious damage to another vessel; on which any casualty resulting in loss of life

African News Agency