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So you’ve woken at the crack of dawn and have hustled down to the boat ramp, to be the first out to the good fishing spot.

But before your boat hits the water, check a few things first to make sure it’s only the fish that hassle you – not maintenance worries with your boat!

Bung's in, let's go

Now’s a good time to check the bungs are in, and to have a quick once-over of the boat – including giving the hull a once-over, checking the outboard to make sure the water pump is spitting water, and that the radio is working – to make sure you’re all good to go on the water. Read our tips on boat maintenance.Tackle box tip: mount a couple of spare bungs unobtrusively near the transom so you know where they are if you need them when you get to the ramp.

Lifejackets for everyone

Make sure you’ve got lifejackets for everyone on board – and make sure your mates are wearing them. Trailer boats have been known to sink in well under a minute, so if something goes wrong you won’t have much time at all to find your lifejacket. 

It’s also very difficult to put lifejackets on when you’re in the water and have other things on your mind, so make sure you (and your mates) wear your lifejackets whenever you hit the water.

Find out what the best lifejacket is for your activity. 

Check the weather

Chances are you’ve been paying attention to the weather for the last few days, but remember to check the marine forecasts and not the local ones. That light breeze on land might be a full blown gale on the water, even as it looks sunny out towards the horizon.

Don’t forget that forecasts change and aren’t always accurate, and your best bet is to see what the weather is doing at your favourite location. Tune into your local VHF Nowcasting channel or get the new Coastguard app to check the latest weather situation. 

Trip reports and bar crossing reports

It takes just a minute, but could save your life. Making a trip report is quick and simple. You can use either your VHF radio (find your local channel here), your cellphone by dialling *500, or the Coastguard App.

Making a TR lets Coastguard know:

  • Where you’re departing from
  • Where you’re headed to
  • What time you expect to arrive (your ETA)
  • The number of people on board (remember they all need lifejackets)
  • What type of boat you’re headed out on (this is linked to your VHF callsign)

If you’re crossing a bar, you need to close your bar crossing report, otherwise a search will begin for you. 

If you’re not sure whether your VHF is working correctly, check out your local channel and give the Coastguard Operations Centre a call on *500. They can do a radio check with you, to make sure you’re good to go.

Now it’s time to get on the water – enjoy it out there!

Boatie's Best Mate.

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