Summer is still over a week away, and yet four people have already died in tragic maritime accidents in Tasmania this boating season.
This time last month Wynyard was desperately hoping for good news about Bree-Anna Thomas, Thomas Courto and Isaiah Dixon after they failed to return home on Monday October 18.
Sadly, the bodies of Ms Thomas and Mr Dixon were soon found, but Mr Courto and the boat remain missing, though Tasmania Police said the chances of finding him alive were low.
Just a few weeks later tragedy struck Tasmania again as a 65-year-old man was found dead after going missing during a dinghy trip in the state's south-east with a 30-year-old man.
The younger man was found alive but spent eight hours in extremely cold water.
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And just last weekend three men were lucky to be alive after the boat they were in capsized on the West Coast, forcing them to swim to shore.
The shocking start to the boating season has shaken communities around Tasmania and led experts and authorities to speak out to ensure people are going out on the water safely.
Last week, Tasmania Marine Police Sergeant Kriss Lawler said the number of tragic incidents pointed to a few key issues which present safety issues for all boat owners, regardless of the level of experience.
"Following three separate sea rescues in recent weeks and tragically four deaths, all boat owners are urged to ensure their vessel is seaworthy and safety equipment is in good condition," Sergeant Lawler said.
His colleague in the North-West, Acting Sergeant Paul Murphy, reinforced that message and said that in recent years the number of people buying secondhand boats which were potentially unsafe had increased.
"We are seeing boats in poor condition starting to resurface and find their way back on to the water," Acting Sergeant Murphy said.
"It is an increasing trend over the last few years as boating is becoming more popular and boats are becoming more affordable and people are buying them through online platforms."
He said people may be buying boats that have sat dormant on someone's property for a long time and simply taking them straight out on the water without adequate inspections of their seaworthiness.
"Just because a boat might look good does not mean it is in a good serviceable condition. It is up to the skipper of a vessel to ensure that their boat is in a seaworthy condition."
David Arnott is a recreational boat and jet ski licence instructor accredited with Marine and Safety Tasmania.
He provides courses in people's own vessels, and had one memorable occasion that a would-be skipper contacted him for a course in a boat he had just bought.
"He took it to a mechanic to have it checked over beforehand and the entire transom was rotten," he said.
"Now that was not very good news for him but at least he was safe."
Mr Arnott compared boating in unsafe vessels to driving in the rain with bald tyres.
Acting Sergeant Murphy and Mr Arnott both spoke about the need for boaters to be familiar with the weather and the technology available to people on their phones.
Ulverstone fisherman Kelly Hunt was particularly insistent about not only paying attention to credible weather apps, but picking one app, understanding it, and using it exclusively.
"I advocate picking one and sticking to it. Whether it is the Bureau of Meteorology or Windy or whatever," Mr Hunt said.
"If you don't know what the wind will do to a particular swell direction, all the fancy-wancy apps in the world won't help you."- Kelly Hunt
"Because if you're time based and not weather based you may choose the app which gives you what you want to see and not what is actually accurate."
However, simply using weather apps was not enough to ensure safety on the water, Mr Hunt said.
"You need a basic understanding of how weather works.
"If you don't know what the wind will do to a particular swell direction, all the fancy-wancy apps in the world won't help you."
He also said that regardless of your level of boating experience, always trust your gut if you are feeling unsafe on the water.
Safety equipment should be only required as a last resort, if your weather forecasting and your vessel should both fail you, Acting Sergeant Murphy said.
"We don't want people to have to use safety equipment... but you also need to not be scared to utilise your safety equipment," he said.
Knowing to use life jackets and flares, ensuring they are well maintained and accessible to all aboard was the key message shared by Acting Sergeant Murphy, Mr Hunt and Mr Arnott.
For more safe boating information and equipment requirements and laws visit www.mast.tas.gov.au.
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