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Knots And Crosses


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Knots and crosses

Frank Walker and Gerald Cowan

November 18, 2007

ONE in four boats is violating the 15-knot speed limit under the Harbour Bridge, a special speed gun-test has found.

The limit of 15knots, or 28kmh, was imposed on August 1 after five people were killed in two separate collisions under the bridge.

But despite the tragedies and repeated warnings from harbour authorities The Sun-Herald recorded 17 boats breaking the speed limit within three hours.

The Sun-Herald used a digital speed radar from Blues Point to record the speed of boats in the zone over three hours during a regular working day.

Seventeen out of 62 boats were recorded over the speed limit.

The worst offenders were private speedboats and high-powered Zodiac boats. One speedboat with three young men laughing and waving was recorded in the zone speeding at 22knots - 42kmh.

That is the same speed the RiverCat Dawn Fraser was travelling when it struck an aluminium runabout under the bridge just before 7am on January 5.

It cut the boat in two, severing the leg of Peter Karatasas, 72. He later died in hospital. RiverCat master Ezra Hilkiah, 51, faces trial on March 31 for dangerous navigation occasioning death.

Last week The Sun-Herald recorded several RiverCat ferries travelling at up to 16.7knots under the bridge, over the 15-knot speed limit.

In March, the HarbourCat ferry Pam Burridge collided with a wooden motor cruiser at night under the bridge.

Four people on the pleasure boat died, including 14-year-old junior ice skating champion Morgan Innes. Her father, Robert Innes, was horrified to hear so many boats were still speeding under the bridge.

"Five deaths are enough," Mr Innes said. "All it takes is a few seconds at a slower speed to avoid a collision.

"If they had put in the speed limit after the January accident, Morgan and the others might be alive today.

"It is a disgrace that they are still speeding and nothing is being done to stop them."

In the three hours that The Sun-Herald monitored boats under the bridge, only one water police boat was seen.

It stopped one speedboat and talked to the driver before moving on.

The 15-knot speed limit sign on the tip of Blues Point has been defaced by graffiti.

Ports Minister Joe Tripodi said yesterday maritime officers had been ordered to step up safety patrols around the bridge this summer to force people to slow down.

He said 60 boaters had been cautioned during the August-September warning period.

Since then, two boat drivers had been fined $80 and one $40. The maximum penalty is $1500.

"Hooning in boats is a threat to the safety of everyone on the waterway," Mr Tripodi said. Opposition ports spokesman Duncan Gay said this stretch of water should be treated like a road black-spot.

"It is the busiest waterway in Australia. It should be covered by speed cameras and warning signs and be well patrolled by water police," Mr Gay said.

Boating Industry Association of NSW general manager Roy Privett said the speed limit was an unnecessary restriction for both private and commercial boats.

"It is very difficult to determine the speed on the water because there are no accurate speedos on small boats," Mr Privett said.

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Pete why would you even want to do more than 10 knots in water like that ? 15 knots is bouncing around a lot in the wake and swell is really only accomodating bad habits and aiding and abetting irrational decisions in emergencies in the case of inexperienced boaters who outnumber the experienced by a country mile.

As to the hoons on the water, I reckon they should just take a look at their brow and forehead before issuing them with a boat licence and though draconian it well may be, just don't let them get out onto water and feel free to play their dangerous high speed games without a character determination.

Reminds me of a goon on his own leaving a service station and wearing out all the rubber on his tires as he skids all over the place and he finally straightens up as the car stabilzes itself into a pole. They give those goons boat licences too, but Pete it's the brow and the forehead plus the expression you see at the start, you and I are old enough to see that before they even leave a boat ramp !!!

jewgaffer :1fishing1:

Edited by jewgaffer
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