24 September 2019

An experienced boater found himself splashing around in Lake Eildon recently, after a simple stumble had him in the water with his boat dangerously motoring around him.

The man fell overboard after standing up, knocking the tiller arm and tripping over an Esky in his little vessel.

As his clothes weighed him down, and the cold slowed his thinking, he wondered for a moment why he wasn’t floating – then he remembered his lifejacket had manual inflation so pulled the cord.

Still, he wondered how long he could last in the cold water.

Amazingly, after discarding most of his clothing, he managed to intercept his slow-going boat and haul himself aboard and caught up with his friends in other vessels.

He later gave Victoria Water Police a list of what went wrong: “No dead man switch tethered to me. Fishing alone. The small V-nose unstable punt contributed to me losing my balance.

“My Esky was a trip hazard. Sudden movements in small boats are dangerous. Not being used to the centre tiller arm on the new 15hp motor.

“Reflecting back, my intuition saved me. I put my jacket on. Without it, I honestly think I’d be dead. Respect the water and put them on or pay the ultimate price when you least expect it.”

Lessons Learnt

In addition to wearing a lifejacket, Maritime Safety Victoria recommends boaters practise getting back onboard their vessel (it’s harder than you think!) and carry a distress beacon so they can call for help.

Prepare for your next trip with our ‘Prepare to survive’ microsite