Take heed of weather warnings


THE weather office had issued warning of strong winds sweeping across the seas and seafarers should be cautious with their travels in light of the tropical cyclones.
It seems the warning had fallen on deaf ears.
The National this week reported on two different incidents of drifting boats in Milne Bay and Madang.
Both relate to boats drifting out at sea after encountering engine problems during bad weather.
In Milne Bay, 13 people were rescued after being adrift at sea for nine days before Cyclone Lucas hit the Milne Bay area on Saturday.
Provincial disaster office coordinator Steven Tobessa said the vessel was drifting in seas along the border with the Solomon Islands.
Their boat had an engine failure and they passed PNG’s last island (Rossell Island) and were (drifting) towards the border with the Solomon Islands when they were spotted at 3pm Saturday by an Australian maritime search and rescue plane.
The Milne Bay disaster office has suspended the operation of all interisland boats until the end of the cyclone season.
Tobessa said the effects of tropical Cyclone Lucas was felt in the province.
In Madang, police rescued 11 people, including teachers and their families drifting at sea off Madang on Monday after their boat ran out of fuel.
Madang police commander Supt Mazuc Rubiang said the 11, including a 10-year-old boy, were travelling to Madang town from Rai Coast.
They managed to drift towards Tabilip where there was mobile phone connectivity. A passenger managed to get in touch with police from there.
“I want to warn boat owners and skippers to take heed of weather warnings before travelling out to sea,” Supt Rubiang said.
Many lives are lost at sea because of ignorance.”
He said Madang town and surrounding areas were used to heavy rain and natural disasters.
It is sad that most times, people along the coast don’t take heed of weather warnings and venture out during windy conditions thinking they are seafarers and know how to sail through it all.
It is those who live along the coast that want to try their skills against Mother Nature and sometimes end up as statistics.
For some, years of practice and experience in sea travel puts them in good stead as it is the only means of travelling from one point to another.
They have watched their grandfathers and village elders do it so many times that it becomes a necessary means of survival.
One does not need an encyclopedia to consult when it comes to exercising some form of responsibility and comply with sea safety measures including not travelling in bad weather, not overloading, carrying extra fuel, life jackets and some form of communication device.
We have people travelling in overloaded dinghies loaded with building materials, food items, bags or betel nut and there is no care by boat operators to adjust so they comply with safety regulations
We should warn that banana boats are no fun at all when the wind picks up, and the wind can pick up with little warning.
People die reasonably frequently in open-sea banana-boat crossings and you will need to exercise common sense before boarding one.
The number of lives lost at sea will continue to increase because negligence by small boat owners, operators and passengers.