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Education Key To Reducing Boating Deaths

Use the winter months to bone up on your boating knowledge by doing a Coastguard Education safe boating course says Director of Maritime Safety, Russell Kilvington.

Speaking in support of today’s launch of the Coastguard Boating Education Service and Water Safety New Zealand Boatsafe Skipper Responsibility initiative, Russell Kilvington pointed out the importance of knowing the basic boating rules of the road.

All our research shows that people are dying unnecessarily in recreational boating accidents says Russell Kilvington.

“Many, if not most fatalities could be avoided if people just took a little more care and gained a bit more knowledge about boating,” he said.

Mr Kilvington says 90% of fatal accidents and 88% of non fatal recreational accidents are caused by skipper ignorance or inexperience.

“In most recreational boating accidents we are not talking about acts of stupidity or reckless behaviour by skippers’, Russell Kilvington says. “ It’s much more likely that they just don’t know enough, or get it wrong,” he said.

Common factors leading up to boating tragedies are sudden changes in weather or water conditions, someone falling overboard or the boat being swamped by a wave.

In addition Mr Kilvington says carrying enough lifejackets for everyone on board the boat is plain common sense, given that 75% of those who drown in boating accidents could probably have avoided death simply by wearing one.

Russell Kilvington says the easy access both to boats and waterways in New Zealand means many people regard recreational boating as the last bastion of freedom.

“We are not trying to stop people having fun out on the water,” he says. “We are just asking boaties to be prepared, know the basics and take sensible precautions”.

That means as the skipper, you should carry enough fuel and a range of safety devices, checking the marine forecast, telling someone where you are going and when you’ll be back and keeping the alcohol until the trip is over.

“Being a responsible skipper is not rocket science,” says Mr Kilvington. “It is simply about knowing the basics, and putting them into practice. For goodness sake, do a safe boating course, even if only to brush up on what you already know, it could be the difference between life and death next summer”.


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