Okay, let’s talk about lifejackets. As from January 1, 2020, the rules have changed, and only lifejackets stamped with AS 4758 are legal in Australia. If you have bought lifejackets in the last few years, they are most likely stamped with this standard. If you have old or imported lifejackets on your boat, it would be a good time to spend five minutes and check that they have AS 4758 on them.
A legal lifejacket will keep you out of trouble with the authorities if they check your boat on the water or at the ramp. However, they are there to save your life in an emergency. Nobody goes boating expecting an emergency, but Coast Guard volunteers with some years’ experience will tell you that it does happen to everyday boaties.
If you have ever been in the water with a lifejacket on, you will immediately notice that it will try its best to float over the top of your head. If you do not have a crutch strap fitted to your lifejacket, you will need both hands to hold it down, leaving you unable to swim properly or help others.
To keep costs down, lifejackets are invariably sold without them, but are usually available at a small extra cost. If you go boating at night, you should also buy a small water activated strobe light and attach it to your lifejacket. Ask your nearest chandlery store.
We hope you are never in a situation where you need to use your lifejacket, but if you do, you will never wish you bought the cheapest one to avoid being fined. Get a quality product.
Remember that it is a legal requirement to wear your lifejacket when crossing a designated coastal bar in an open boat less than 4.8 metres, and all children under 12 must wear them at all times in an open vessel less than 4.8 metres.