Authorities in Tasmania are urging boaters to be cautious around barways after two boats capsized in separate incidents only hours apart on Sunday, killing one man.
Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST) said a third rescue was conducted on the same day when another boat overturned off Spring Beach on the east coast.
MAST general manager of recreation and boating Peter Hopkins said two people had to be rescued after the third capsize.
Earlier in the day, a man aged in his 40s died after a boat overturned at the Narrows at Marion Bay in the state’s south-east.
Two other men who were on board were rescued and treated for mild hypothermia and shock.
About three hours later, St Helen’s Marine Rescue retrieved four men from an upturned dingy at the St Helen’s Barway.
What is a barway?
- A barway is a shallow sandbar, often near rivers, creeks or harbours
- Shallow water, sandbars and fast-flowing tides make the areas dangerous
- Know preparation procedures, and how to approach, position and exit
One man was transferred to Royal Hobart Hospital with broken ribs.
The skipper of the boat was charged with exceeding the blood alcohol limit.
Two of the weekend incidents involved crossing barways, which Mr Hopkins said could be hazardous at any time.
“Anytime you cross a barway, you’ve got to be careful,” he said.
“It’s the unknown waves, the unknown set of waves that might be coming through.
“There might be not wind at all, but depending in the swell conditions we still get a set of waves or a swell coming though a barway and you’ve got to sit back and really analyse that before you go out.”
“Barways often generally move with sand movements, so it’s something all people should seek local knowledge on before they go out.”
Mr Hopkins has not ruled increasing training about barways when people are seeking licences.
Currently a boat licence involves two hours of theory and two-and-a half hours in a boat with an accredited trainer.
“Maybe it’s something we’ve got to look at even more to make that a little more stringent, so that’s something we will be taking into consideration into the future,” he said.
He said money had been spent on the St Helens barway over several years, but not much could be done about Marion Narrows.
“A barway is a barway, they do move constantly,” he said.
“You have to look at swell heights, wave heights as well as wind.”
“Yesterday there was no wind at all, but a decent swell running on the east coast. Just because there was no wind doesn’t mean it’s safe to go boating.”
Mr Hopkins said the St Helens barway had been the scene of several fatalities over the years but Tasmania’s marine safety record had improved overall.
“We’ve gone from about 10,000-12,000 boats pre 2001 where we averaged around about 6.8 fatalities a year,” he said.
“We are now sitting around 31,000 boats and our [fatality] rate’s an average 2.8 to 3 a year, so it has come down dramatically since the compulsory wearing of life jackets was introduced in 2001.”
All of the men involved in the Marion Bay and St Helens incidents were all wearing lifejackets.
A report is being prepared for the coroner.