New skipper’s reminder to boaties for Auckland Anniversary
23 January 2014
Coastguard New Zealand is urging boaties to be prepared and respectful of the many different water users on the water during Auckland’s Anniversary weekend, historically one of the most popular boating days in the Auckland region each year.
Joe Single is Coastguard’s newest skipper in the Northern Region. However after 5 years of volunteer service to the organisation, he’s far from new when it comes to what matters most on the water ahead of one of the Auckland region’s busiest weekends.
“Long weekends are always a popular time for boaties to head out on the water. During Anniversary Weekend last year we received nearly 4,000 radio calls and responded to 58 calls for assistance. We would expect a similar number for this coming weekend.
“It’s a good time to remind people who are heading out sailing or boating to be smart and prepared before getting out on the water, and to keep a good look out as to what’s going on around them with the increased congestion expected, particularly in the inner harbour. There’s room for everyone, but common sense prevails,” says Mr Single.
During December there was a staggering increase in the number of calls Coastguard received that related to mechanical or electrical issues. Of the 303 calls for help directed to the Northern Region’s Operations Centre, over half of these calls (184 call outs) were due to this type of issue onboard.
“Mechanical and electrical failure is quite a common type of incident that Coastguard volunteers face during the start of summer. People head out in boats that either haven’t been used over winter or haven’t been recently serviced, so it’s important for people to ensure everything is running smoothly before setting off.
“Communication is vitally important. So ensure you have at least two ways of contacting help, with a marine VHF radio as your main form of communication, and perhaps a cellphone in a waterproof case as a backup. Think about an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), flares, torches, even a whistle - if all else fails these could save the day.
“Ultimately, if people can’t contact us then it makes it difficult for us to find and help you. It’s that simple,” says Mr Single.
Summer is traditionally the peak season for people to enjoy long days on the water and during December national Coastguard figures shows a five per cent increase from the previous year on the number of rescue missions carried out.
Coastguard New Zealand CEO Patrick Holmes says “We do expect a spike in the number of rescues during the warmer months. There has been 399 rescue missions carried out by Coastguard around the country during December and that is a 5 per cent increase on the rescues carried out during the same period in 2012.
“With a large number of Aucklanders expected to head out on the water this weekend, it’s an ideal time to remind people of the importance of being prepared and to be aware of general boat safety to combat common mistakes.”
The five simple rules are:
1. Life Jackets: Take them – Wear them.
Boats, especially ones under 6m in length, can sink very quickly. Wearing a life jacket increases your survival time in the water.
2. Skipper Responsibility
The skipper is responsible for the safety of everyone on board and for the safe operation of the boat. Stay within the limits of your vessel and your experience. Take a Coastguard Boating Education Course, like the popular Day Skipper, Boatmaster and Marine VHF Radio Operator - www.boatingeducation.org.nz
Take two separate waterproof ways of communicating so we can help you if you get into difficulties.
4. Marine Weather
New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the local marine weather forecast before you go and expect both weather and sea state changes.
5. Avoid Alcohol
Safe boating and alcohol do not mix. Things can change quickly.
“We’re encouraging boaties to be aware of their surroundings and to be respectful to each other to ensure it’s a safe weekend out on the water for everyone,” says Mr Holmes.
For more boating safety and education information visit www.coastguard.co.nz. Consider making a donation online to Coastguard, the charity looking after you and your family on the water this summer.