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'Play It Safe' On The Water This Weekend

A good weather forecast for the weekend means people are likely to head out on the water under COVID-19 Alert Level 2, prompting a safety reminder from Waikato Regional Council’s harbourmasters.

“We expect boaties will be keen to get out on the water, so we ask people to play it safe as it’s likely to be quite busy at boat ramps and so forth,” said Waikato Regional Council’s maritime services team leader Richard Barnett.

“Since you won’t have been out in a while, make sure your equipment is still in working order beforehand, and that you don’t have any stowaways like rats and mice that could catch a ride to a predator free island.

“Even before getting out on the water, remember to keep safe in public spaces and abide by the physical distancing requirements of 2 metres,” Mr Barnett said.

“Also wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser as soon as possible after touching items someone else may have touched, such as fuel pumps or marina gates and locks.”

Mr Barnett pointed out there’s a lot of shared equipment on boats, like fishing gear and life jackets. “The emphasis is usually on having enough life jackets for the number of people on your boat and making sure they’re worn on vessels 6 metres or under, while underway. But under Alert Level 2 it’s worth thinking about each having your own life jacket or making sure life jackets are cleaned between use.

“If you have a big boat, you’ll also need to limit the number of people you have on board to 10 people,” Mr Barnett said.

He said people had “generally been really good during lockdown” and abided by the no boating rules put in place to reduce the risk to Coastguard or other emergency services in the case of a break down or accident.

“The safety of emergency services is something we still need to be mindful of. So before heading onto the water this weekend, check the tides and the forecast so you don’t get caught out by the unexpected.

“Also, take two forms of waterproof communication out with you in case something does go wrong.”

Mr Barnett said Waikato Regional Council harbourmasters would be on the water in popular hotspots, particularly on the Coromandel Peninsula and region’s west coast, as well as some inland waterways.

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