Bow riding declared unsafe

18 February 2016

Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) is alarmed by the number of people putting themselves at risk of death or serious injury by sitting on the bow of boats that are underway.

Adrian Mnew, Acting Director, Maritime Safety, issued the warning in an attempt to prevent accidents.

"I am very concerned that this practice is an accident waiting to happen and will lead to serious injuries and deaths.

"Our Maritime Safety Officers (MSOs) have seen multiple cases of 'bow riding' almost every time they've been out on the water this summer and suspect that it's just the tip of the iceberg.

"Bow riding is dangerous, particularly in choppy conditions, at high speeds and when done to create a 'thrill' ride by turning sharply or cresting waves.

"The MSOs have been shocked by the number of people they've spoken to who can't see why bow riding is unsafe or are completely unaware of the risks.

"We know people tend to overestimate their safety and skills while underestimating what can go wrong, how quickly and how serious the consequences can be.

"If you slip off and go under the boat the skipper has no time to react and even a lifejacket won't protect you from propeller strike injuries or death," Mr Mnew said.

Bow riding is not against the law and does not incur any penalty, however, allowing unsafe behaviour on a boat is a breach of a skipper's safety duties under the Marine Safety Act 2010 (Vic).

"Just imagine what you would feel like if your child was hanging on to the bow rail one minute and out of sight the next – which way would you turn, what would you do?"

"You wouldn't allow your child or friend to sit on the bumper bar as you drove down the road so don't allow anyone on your boat to bow ride," Mr Mnew added.