A Warning To Boat Owners
1 March 2013
A Warning To Boat Owners
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will look to prosecute boat owners who ignore Navigational Safety bylaws.
This is the message from HBRC Manager of Compliance and Harbours, Bryce Lawrence, adding “HBRC has decided that warnings will not be issued to skippers failing to use common sense and who breach Council bylaws related to impeding ships.”
“Boat owners will be prosecuted if they ignore Navigational Safety bylaws and cross too close to ships in the Napier Port shipping channels,” says Mr Lawrence.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is concerned about recent near misses. HBRC is currently prosecuting a commercial vessel for breaching the bylaws in 2012 which require boats to stay more than 500 metres away from a ship’s bow when crossing the ship’s path.
On 15 February 2013, a small recreational boat passed so close to the bow of a cruise ship, that the Pilot and Master of the cruise ship lost sight of the vessel under the ship’s bow.
"Boaties need to pay attention to the bylaws,” says HBRC Harbourmaster Captain Phil Norman.
“The bylaws are there to guide
the safety of everyone on the water,” says Captain Norman.
“Typically, a fully loaded container ship will have a blind area of 900 metres in front of its bow. An empty container ship can have up to a 300 metre blind area.”
Captain Norman says the risks are more obvious from the port pilot's view. From the bridge of the ship, the pilot saw the small boat approach but lost sight of it.
“Even though a boatie can see the large ship, those on the bridge cannot necessarily see a small boat passing so close,” says Captain Norman.
The speed of large ships can be deceptive and smaller boats often pass closer than they intend to when crossing the bow of a ship. As soon as a master and pilot lose sight of a boat under their bow, the risk of an incident increases considerably.
“If a close
quarters situation arose that caused a ship to ground at the
entrance to Napier Port, the consequences could be
devastating for life, the environment and Hawke’s Bay’s
economy,” adds HBRC’s Bryce Lawrence.
“The port could be closed for a period of months which would affect many Hawke’s Bay businesses. Another possibility could be an oil spill with more effects than the Rena grounding, and lives lost,” says Mr Lawrence.
If a cruise ship grounded, the effects could be worse than those experienced with the Rena.
Captain Norman has some advice for boaties, “Don’t run the risk, take your time and navigate around the stern of a ship, at all times maintaining a distance of not less than 100 metres from the ship’s side or stern. And if you need to think ‘have I enough time’, you probably don’t and take action to alter your course.”