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Boaties going overboard on life jackets

Thursday 2 February 2006

Boaties going overboard on life jackets

Bay of Plenty boaties are going overboard on life jackets.

Environment Bay of Plenty and Maritime New Zealand staff and volunteers checked nearly 2000 boats in a region-wide water safety blitz over Anniversary Weekend. And they found an “astounding” number of boats carrying more life jackets than required by law.

Almost all vessels had spares, says Captain Jon Moore, Environment Bay of Plenty’s regional harbourmaster. In fact, on average, there were nearly half again as many life jackets as people on board. A few even had special life preservers for their dogs.

“It’s a fantastic result and shows that skippers are really taking the safety message seriously,” Mr Moore says. “Last year, we noticed an increase in life jackets too. But this year has topped even that. And we seemed to get the same result across the whole region, which is even better.”

Mr Moore says the annual blitz helps educate skippers and raise awareness generally. It could not be done without the voluntary work of harbour wardens and safe boating advisors from Maritime New Zealand. “We’ve had excellent support from them, and we appreciate it very much,” he says.

A full force patrolled the region’s lakes and harbours over the three days of the long weekend, carrying out spot checks at boat ramps and stopping boats on the water. They gave out hundreds of safe boating packs, including updated harbour and lake guides.

“The public really appreciated the effort we were making and gave us some excellent feedback. It’s an exercise that’s well worth doing – and it seems to be working.”

Regional navigation and safety bylaws state that all pleasure craft must carry life jackets of the right size for everyone on board. They must be worn when there is danger or a risk to safety, such as when seas are rough, while crossing river bars, during bad weather and in poor visibility.


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