Safety update

May 1998 Basic navigational precautions and correct stowage of safety equipment

This safety update is for all mariners. It is issued to raise awareness of the importance of basic navigational precautions. It provides safe practice tips for how best to reduce the risks involved and to alert people to the risk to safety associated with incorrect stowage of safety equipment.


Overlooking several basic safety precautions recently resulted in a serious accident and the loss of two lives.

Safe practice tips

Maritime New Zealand reminds mariners that:

  • The largest scale chart available should be used and the vessel’s position should be monitored at frequent, regular intervals.
  • A course line should be laid off on the chart before the trip begins which takes into account the need for sufficient sea room for manoeuvring in the event of an emergency.
  • An over reliance on GPS plotter information, without the position being periodically transferred to the chart for reference, can be dangerous. A GPS is only an aid to navigation and must be checked regularly for accuracy.
  • All liferafts which are kept in a soft valise should not be stowed where they are exposed to the weather nor should they be lashed down. They should be readily accessible.
  • Where a velcro flap is fitted to a soft valise, the flap should be overlaid with reflective tape or other material to enable it to be easily identified in the dark.
  • The EPIRB should be capable of being tracked by satellite and kept in a readily accessible place, preferably close to the entrance to the wheelhouse.
  • The condition, status and operation of all safety equipment should be carefully checked before the trip begins. Lifejackets should be kept in a readily accessible place. Distress rockets and flares should be checked for currency, stowed where they are protected and be quickly accessed in the event of an emergency.

It is only necessary for one of these precautions to be neglected for an incident to occur but if they are all ignored, the possibility of a serious accident becomes almost inevitable.

Original source content - Boat Notice 041998, May: Basic navigational precautions and correct stowage of safety equipment.

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