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Water and boat safety education centre launched

Well-respected water and boat safety education centre launched by Queenstown Water Taxis

Queenstown Water Taxis has launched a water safety and boating education centre with the aim of minimising incidents and accidents on New Zealand waters making it one of only a handful of centres in the South Island.

Thunder Jet and Queenstown Water Taxis Operations Manager Kylie Tomlin, armed with over 12 years in the marine industry and time spent working and skippering vessels worldwide, is the driving force behind the move.

With an emphasis on water safety and boating education – driven by a desire to minimise incidents and accidents – the company has established a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Training Centre in the heart of New Zealand’s leading tourism resort.

Ms Tomlin, who is dual-licensed, drives and skippers both Thunder Jet boats and Queenstown Water Taxis and over the years has seen the importance of water safety education.

“I’ve seen and heard about so many water-related incidents and accidents over the years and come to realise that education is the key to prevention,” she said.

“That’s why I began researching different educators and courses until I stumbled upon the RYA courses and company structure.”

The RYA has been around for over 130 years, offering over 100 courses for all ages, abilities and professional or recreational goals all around the world.

Following a small mountain of paperwork and requirements, Queenstown Water Taxis has now been recognised as an RYA Training Centre offering both the RYA Powerboat Level 2 certificate along with Marine VHF Operator Certificate, and is one of the very few in the South Island.

“The thing about the RYA Powerboat Level 2 course that we have to offer, is that we have uniquely specialised the course, unlike no other,” she said.

“We offer the same syllabus but it’s taught using both disciplines of powerboats; outboard drive and jet-powered drive or jet boats.

“This really works in our area given the number of boats and jet boats on local lakes and it’s so important to be able to offer these skills-based courses especially when it’s coming into summer. “

Ms Tomlin said the course offers students an introduction and basic skills required in operating a power boat safely and proficiently, ultimately gaining them an internationally-recognised qualification.

Courses are open to those 15 and older and are held over two days on Lake Wakatipu, with shore-based theory training held at the Thunder Jet workshop in Queenstown’s Frankton Marina.

Day One covers aspects of outboard drive on one of the Queenstown Water Taxis vessels, and Day Two covers aspects of Jet unit drive (Jet boat) on Thunder Jet’s commercial jet boat ‘Mackraft 1’.

Courses are run with a maximum of three students to one instructor, enabling the students to receive quality practical training and a great learning experience.

Practical on boat training includes launching and trailering, turning in confined spaces, vessel parking, general boat handling, hazards and safety, anchoring and high speed manoeuvring.

Theory aspects covered include basic chart work, tides and currents, collision regulations/rules of the road, and knots, and the aim is to ensure students feel more confident about boat handing and general boating skills.
Queenstown Water Taxis also offers private direct assessments and own boat tuition, and can cover emergency situations such as POB, grounding or collisions.

Students with prior experience are welcome to sit the course via direct assessment.

Queenstown Harbour Master Marty Black is “delighted” that Thunder Jet has stepped up to the plate to offer the course.

“It’s another string in our bow promoting water safety and is highly recommended for all boaties to do,” he said.

Because the course is recognised internationally, the resulting certificate enables students to hire boats in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and elsewhere, and gives them a “sound foot in the door” towards a maritime career, said Ms Tomlin.


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