The safest Finn in the water

INCORRECT information on boat compliance plates is putting people’s lives at risk, says Finn Kayaks and Boats’ director Alwyn Duke.

Owners rely on compliance plates to tell them how many people, and how much weight, their craft can hold.

The Bicton local has been campaigning to ensure plates coming into Australia meet strict standards.

A recent video posted on Facebook shows people panicking as water floods into an overloaded dingy without a motor well, causing it to sink.

“Boats without motor wells – to stop flooding over the stern – should generally have half the capacity and motor size that they’re sold with,” Mr Duke says.

About 40 Australians a year die in such incidents, he says.

“After reading hundreds of coroners’ reports, I have become angry about the unnecessary loss of life when the boat owner unwittingly trusts the information on the build plates.”

The powerful Australian Maritime Safety Authority has acknowledged there’s a problem, but there’s been little action, Mr Duke says.

In January, Maritime Safety Queensland issued a recall notice for 40 vessels imported by Scariff Boats, after irregularities were discovered during plate inspections.

“It’s a start but we need something bigger,” Mr Duke says.

“WA says it will do something but nothing happens.”

When Finn Kayaks and Boats set up about 20 years ago there was a thriving local market, but competition from Chinese manufacturers has taken its toll.

“Most of the kayak shops have shut down and all our dealers have gone. We pretty much don’t make kayaks.”

Instead the O’Connor factory produces “lots and lots” of dinghies, including rescue boats for commercial ships.

Safety features on the dinghies go well beyond AMSA standards, Mr Duke says.

“Finn dinghies stay upright with you still inside if swamped. You will never be left clinging to an upturned capsized hull, like in an inferior aluminium, fibreglass or inflatable dingy or workboat.”

The boats are made in O’Connor using a revolutionary Foamtec polyethylene, and the plastic used has been formulated to deal with Australia’s harsh sun.

“That’s why we stand by our lifetime warranty and 10-year UV rating.”

By Jenny D’Anger

Finn Kayaks and Boats
11 Forsyth Street, O’Connor
Phone 9314 3109

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