VMR Gladstone Base: 07 4972 3333 Duty Controller: 0417 681 921

Between November and April, the Central Queensland Region traditionally experiences some bad weather that poses dangers for boat owners. Since the weather over the next few months looks like it might be challenging, we thought this might be a good time to briefly look at this topic.

To plan and prepare for weather events, boat owners obviously need to be aware of the conditions they will be facing. There are several places that boat owners can obtain weather forecasts:

l The Bureau of Meteorology’s Queensland Marine Warnings phone service on 1300 659 210.

l The Bureau of Meteorology Marine and Ocean website page that can be found at: http://www.bom.gov.au/marine. It is also worthwhile looking at: http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/meteye.

l While you are at sea, in this area you can also listen to weather forecasts that are broadcast on channel 82 at 0640 and 1640 each day.

As a rule, significant weather events like cyclones are often predicted very accurately and with plenty of warning. Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) also publishes Extreme Weather Event Contingency Plans to tell you what to do if a cyclone warning is released and how to respond to the different warning and/or alert levels. There is a specific plan for the Queensland region which you should download from the MSQ website.

However, other dangerous weather, like tropical storms, often don’t receive the same amount of attention. This means they can impact boat owners with little warning, and it is important to be ready for an unexpected weather event while at sea.

While everyone on a boat should be wearing a lifejacket, MSQ suggests that at the first sign of bad weather the person responsible for the vessel should double check that everyone has a life jacket correctly fitted. If possible, you should head back to your normal mooring or the boat ramp you departed from. If this is not possible, look for shelter in rivers or creeks with a mangrove fringe that can reduce the impact of strong winds. As this is going to change your location and will also likely change your anticipated time of return, Marine Rescue ask that you contact us to let us know where you will be sheltering so we can update these details on our vessel tracking log. If you are not putting yourself on our log when you head out to sea, this is also a good time to get into the habit of doing this!

If you are going to keep your boat in the water during storm season, MSQ recommends you:

  • Familiarise yourself with areas where you can shelter your boat.
  • Ensure authorities have updated contact details if anything has changed.
  • Ensure your list of emergency telephone numbers is up to date and is where it is meant to be. It may include numbers for the harbour master, volunteer marine rescue and the Queensland Police Service’s local water police.
  • Check that you have enough lines to secure your boat (rope is preferable because it has more flex than chain).
  • Store any loose items below deck.
  • Confirm that all hatches are secure and that your boat is completely watertight.
  • Remove anything that may catch the wind, for example furled sails and covers, and bimini tops.

If you plan to be away MSQ also strongly recommend you:

  • Leave your boat key with a responsible person who has a boat licence, along with instructions to move your boat if directed to do so by authorities because of a severe weather warning.

Of course, it’s not possible to cover every situation so MSQ advises boat owners to use their own common sense when preparing their boat for bad weather and to obey any directions given by authorities.

If you have any questions about securing your boat, or anything else related to your boat, you can always contact Volunteer Marine Rescue Gladstone