A recent incident shows how quickly a situation can change, and how important it is to have your safety gear to hand.

Two boaters were in a vessel on 7 April but, when one of the men tripped and fell, their boat capsized around 11.15pm.

The 3.9m Stacer capsized off the Grain Pier at Geelong, adjacent to the No. 1 channel marker.

While the pair had all the required safety equipment onboard, it capsized with the vessel and their mobile phones were rendered useless by the water.

Fortunately the two men were wearing lifejackets. The master of the vessel was holding a waterproof torch, so they were able to signal their predicament to nearby vessels who came to the rescue.

The boaters spent only about 10-15 minutes in the water and were given the all clear by Ambulance Victoria. The vessel was recovered from the water later in the night.

Despite being prepared and experienced, the boaters ended up in the water with no real means of raising the alarm and, with just a torch, were extremely lucky to be rescued.

Geelong Port by VRCA

What went right

  • Weather forecast had been checked and type of vessel, destination and intended trip time were suitable for the anticipated weather.
  • Lifejackets were worn, and inflated as intended once the occupants entered the water.
  • Torch worked in the water and floated.
  • Capsized vessel floated and gave the occupants something to hang on to.
  • Other vessels in the area heard yelling and tug spotted the torch light.
  • Anchor light was working even when vessel was towed back to shore.

What went wrong

  • A mobile phone was on board, but was not in a waterproof pouch and was unusable wet.
  • The flares were in a bag that was not accessible once the vessel had capsized.
  • The boat was fitted with buoyancy foam that did not float the boat upright once it had capsized.

Read our advice about what to do in an emergency.

More Lessons Learnt articles