An Accolade for MAST

by Paul Reardon RG597, January 2018

Until we recently upgraded to a cruiser we had a trailer boat with which for many years we explored southeast Tasmania, launching from boat ramps between Swansea and Dover with the odd further trip to St Helens and even one trip to Port Lincoln in South Australia. Over the years we have seen the occasional presence of Tasmania Police at or near boat ramps and on the water, but we have never been challenged or checked for safety gear, licences, registration etc.


 

In December 2017 we launched at Prince of Wales bay for a quick run down the river to check out the boat prior to selling it, having bought the cruiser. We launched as normal, climbed aboard and, as usual, eased away from the pontoon at tickover speed while I warmed up the engine. It is my usual, and certainly bad habit, to don my lifejacket during this process while still within a short distance from shore.

About 20 or thirty metres from the pontoon, and before I'd had time to pull on the Stormy, I looked back and saw two ladies standing on the pontoon waving energetically at us. Thinking they might need help, I turned around and went back. The ladies greeted us warmly and thanked us for returning. They then identified themselves as being from MAST, doing the rounds of boat ramps and checking boats and occupants.

They were very thorough, even to the point of asking me to put on my lifejacket while standing in the boat next to the pontoon. They went through everything - licence, registration, safety gear (we keep a "grab bag" on board containing flares, Epirb etc.) and ultimately congratulated us on having everything in order. They even took a photo of us holding up the grab bag and properly attired in our PFDs. They asked if MAST could use the photo and we readily agreed.

These ladies were wonderful. They were 'the two Julies' from MAST and meeting them was a pleasure. One of the things that impressed us was that they asked to actually see the things they were checking on, rather than than just saying 'have you got so-and-so', and taking our word for it.

My only criticism of the whole experience is that it doesn't happen often enough. Whether by MAST or Tasmania Police, I would love to see more of these checks being carried out. All up, I've been boating for nearly 50 years all around Australia, during which I've seen quite a few disasters going somewhere to happen. I know that resources for MAST and Tasmania Police are limited but I can only urge these organisations do as much preventative checking as possible and when they do, they should emulate the two Julies!