WEAR boat users are being encouraged to be safer to make savings, as part of a new scheme launched by the Port of Sunderland.
The Wear Boat Safe scheme, led by Sunderland City Council and the Port of Sunderland, will see boat owners receive a 50 percent discount on harbour dues, providing they comply with safety conditions set out by the Harbour Master.
Part of Port of Sunderland’s commitment to promoting sea safety, the scheme encourages boat owners to stay safe on the water by signing up to a range measures aimed at safeguarding pleasure boat users.
Councillor Paul Watson, chair of the Port Board and leader of Sunderland City Council said: “We take safety on our waterways very seriously and are working very closely with the RNLI and other partners to ensure the success of the Wear Boat Safe scheme.
This scheme, along with the other programmes we work with the RNLI on, are a really good way of helping people to get a better understanding of how to stay safe around water. The charity’s Advice Onboard sessions are crucial in helping boat owners appreciate safety issues and the importance of carrying the correct equipment, together with an understanding of emergency procedures.”
Neil Mearns, Marine Services Manager, said: “The aim of the scheme is to promote sea safety, and provide an incentive for boat users to take greater responsibility for their own safety.
“The Port of Sunderland is committed to promoting the safe use of the harbour in accordance with its obligations under the Port Marine Safety Code, while at the same time adopting measures to enhance wider sea safety.
“The port has agreed to offer discount to pleasure boat owners to support these objectives and we’re sure the scheme will prove a big success for all parties.”
Boat owners are asked to complete a declaration form to confirm acceptance of the scheme’s terms and conditions. These include agreement to carry basic safety equipment, such as lifejackets or buoyancy aids, marine radio and other means of calling for help.
Other requirements involve obligatory wearing of lifejackets by under 16-year-olds and those who use small tenders to board their craft.
Another of the scheme’s essential elements involves participation in a Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Advice Onboard session, when a trained sea safety officer will offer a free face-to-face consultation on boat safety.
Valuable support is being provided by the RNLI, James Jamieson, Sunderland RNLI Operations Manager said: ‘Statistics released today by the RNLI once again show that our lifeboat station is the busiest in the North area, when it comes to rescue launches.
"In 2016 our volunteers launched on 100 occasions to rescue people in distress. We are extremely pleased to be able to work alongside Port of Sunderland as part of the new Wear Boat Safe package which will no doubt drive improvements in water safety in the Sunderland area’.
Participation in HM Coastguard’s free Voluntary Safety Identification Scheme (CG66) also forms part of the Wear Boat Safe package, with online registration of boat details to help in search and rescue should a boat get into difficulties, go missing or become overdue.
The initiative is only one element of the Port of Sunderland’s commitment to supporting the 10-year UK Drowning Prevention Strategy, others being provision of water patrols, enhancing existing byelaws and participating in multi-agency water safety forums, including one recently launched by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.
Water Patrol Officers will take to the water this Easter for their fifth successive season in providing safety and legal education to water users. Part of their role will be to check that owners who have signed up to Wear Boat Safe are abiding by its conditions.
Wear Boat Safe will launch on April 1 and boat owners have until July 1 to return the declaration form. Forms are current being distributed.
The scheme’s provisions apply to individual boats only and are not transferrable. Fishing vessels or other craft used for commercial purposes are not eligible to take part as they are required to comply with statutory safety standards.