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Preparing for a safe summer in the water

Preparing for a safe summer in the water

Environment Bay of Plenty is gearing up for a safe summer on the water.

Maritime manager Jon Moore says volunteer wardens will begin regular patrols around Tauranga harbour, the Rotorua lakes and the eastern Bay of Plenty on Labour Weekend. Backed by the region’s three harbourmasters, they will check for life-jackets, give advice, and generally keep an eye out for problems or dangerous behaviour.

Wardens are also “a great reservoir of local knowledge”, Mr Moore says. “They know a lot about their patch and are happy to pass on all sorts of useful information to water users.”

Labour Weekend traditionally signals the start of the boating season. It’s a good idea for skippers to brush up on the maritime regulations, including local bylaws, collision regulations and water recreation regulations, Mr Moore says.

They will need to check their boats over carefully before taking them out for the first time. It is also required by law to have a suitably-sized life jacket for every person on board, including infants and children. “It’s no use putting an adult into a teenager’s jacket, for example. If it’s too small, it may not hold them up in the water.”

Life jackets must be worn when there is danger or a risk to safety, including when seas are rough, during bad weather and in poor visibility.

Since last year, Environment Bay of Plenty has been able to impose instant fines if boaties do not follow navigation and safety rules on life jackets. These regulations are now also part of the Maritime Safety Act, which means skippers can be prosecuted if they break them.

An updated booklet of the Bay of Plenty Regional Navigation and Safety Bylaws is available from Environment Bay of Plenty on 0800 ENV BOP (368 267). There are also Aquatic Guides for Tauranga Harbour, Maketu and Little Waihi estuaries, the Kaituna River, Whakatane and Ohiwa Harbours and the Waioeka and Rangitaiki Rivers.

Ten Rules for Safe Boating

Watch the weather. Listen to marine broadcasts. The weather over sea areas is often different from that over land. Keep an eye on the weather when you are at sea. Make for shelter at the first sign of bad weather. Do not overload your boat with gear or people. Wear tested life jackets. Equip your boat for its particular purpose. Know how to handle your boat and all the equipment on it. Keep your engine in good working order at all times. Carry spare fuel. Know the collision regulations, local by-laws and the water recreation regulations. Keep a good lookout at all times. Know how to recognise all the distress signals and be sure that you know how to operate those you carry. Guard against fire. Know how to deal with a fire if it occurs. Do not mix boating and drinking. Before you leave on any trip, tell a reliable person ashore where you intend to go and when you expect to return.

CAPTION: Environment Bay of Plenty wants skippers to brush up on the maritime regulations before they launch into another summer on the water.

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