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Safety Lanyards

Skippers need to be aware of the lifesaving benefits of using a safety lanyard, especially when boating alone. Recent boating deaths and incidents in WA could have been avoided with the use of a safety lanyard which automatically stops a vessel’s motor if the skipper falls overboard or leaves the steering position.

By not using a safety lanyard a skipper is risking their life and that of their passengers because the fixed throttle on most boats system means it will continue to move through the water at the same speed endangering those in the water.

How a safety lanyard works:

A safety lanyard, also known as a kill switch, has a quick-release fitting at one end attached to the vessel motor or console and at the other end is a clip attached to the skipper. The lanyard should be worn by the skipper whenever the engine is running.

The coiled design allows the driver the natural movement required when driving a boat. Sudden movement away from the helm position means the lanyard will detach and the engine will stop. In most instances the boat will not start without the safety lanyard in place therefore a second lanyard should be kept on board to allow the boat to be re-started if the skipper and lanyard have gone overboard.

When attaching the clip to the skipper special care needs to be taken to ensure it stays attached. Loop the lanyard around your wrist or ankle and attach the clip to secure it. If the clip is attached to clothing it could fall off.

How to wear your safety lanyard:

For skippers with tiller steered boats or personal water craft it is easier and more comfortable to apply the safety lanyard around the wrist. Always check your lanyard works by starting the engine and pulling the cord to make sure the quick-release fitting detaches and stops the engine. Be safe; use a safety lanyard and always check:

  • When attached it doesn’t interfere with the steering or gear controls

  • Its length does not exceed the engine manufacturer’s recommendation

  • It works and has no signs of wear before going boating

  • Replacement lanyards are of good quality with a strengthening cord through the middle

  • It is protected from extreme temperature and UV light

  • It has good spiral tension. If not replace it

  • There is a spare lanyard on board.

(Information and photo courtesy of Department of Transport).

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