Sea safety sinks
I HAVE been at sea and on the high seas proper for most of my life.
The standard that is set by the authorities now is so low it has become the root cause of tragedy at sea.
In bad weather conditions there is no room for error.
Thirty to 40 years ago, in order to sit for an examination to be master of a fishing trawler a minimum of five years of sea time was required that encompassed 24/7 life on the high seas.
Nowadays eight hours a day working in a bay or enclosed area like the Great Barrier Reef is considered satisfactory and if the authorities had their way no sea time would be required at all.
Safety at sea in smaller ships like this is overseen by men who sit behind desks all day and call the shots but couldn’t save themselves if they tried.
As the fishing industry collapsed the standard dropped to the extent that almost no sea time is required.
Why? Because there is nowhere left in Australian waters where you can obtain the necessary ocean experience to operate a ship safely in all conditions.
There are thousands of people out there with certificates of competency who have no idea how to operate a small ship safely in inclement weather and unsavoury conditions and I mix with some of them every day.
Expect these tragedies to continue and increase. Boating is like ABC – until the going gets tough, then everything goes to hell.
— Patrick Von Stieglitz,