A MAJOR boat retailer has called for boaties to pay more attention to safety after the state government recorded the highest level of fatalities in Queensland waters in two decades.
John Crawford Marine managing director Matthew Hodson said he was trying to find a more effective way of making people aware of the risks when boating in potentially dangerous Moreton Bay.
"Talk to someone. Talk to the experts before you go out and take their advice and tell people where you're going and have all of your safety equipment," Mr Hodson said.
"In the boating community we want to come together with a page on social media, a forum, something not to scare people but just make them aware of the dangers on the waters, because it changes so quickly, and sometimes it's not a problem until it's too late.
"Boating is a fun activity, but there is a very serious side to it, and people need to be prepared for anything, no matter how much experience they have."
The 2020 Queensland Marine Incidents Report recorded a major rise in boating numbers in the state, along with 17 fatalities, the most deaths in Queensland in the past 20 years.
It also found an extra 7244 recreational vessels were registered in 2020, more than three times the expected number in any given year, as people with more time on their hands through the COVID-19 pandemic took to the water.
Although his business was doing well, Mr Hodson said he was concerned about the number of Moreton Bay fatalities, and that some people were getting caught up in the excitement of buying a vessel and were lost on the safety aspects.
"Most, if not all of these deaths, were avoidable and preventable and happened because of poor decision making or inexperience. Many of us in the boating community were mortified to hear about some of the incidents," he said.
"We try to emphasise responsibility when selling boats, and particularly with first time boat buyers, we like to take them out in the vessels and show them how to use the boats and understand the water, but some people are more concerned about the superficial things like the colour and size.
The high number of fatalities also prompted police to issue a warning to amateur and experienced boaties.
Mr Hodson said his used boat business at Tingalpa had seen a major increase in sales over the past year and was struggling to keep up.
"It's exciting to see the number of new people getting into boating, we're a very welcoming group and we enjoy sharing the water," Mr Hodson said.
"It's been exponential growth but we've been restricted by stock. The demand is exceeding the supply we have of both new and used boats.
"Most of the people buying from us are locals and day boaties, and many are new to the boating scene. They're looking to try something different and explore beyond their backyard."