Boaties Urged To Up Their Safety Game – There Are No Excuses
Boaties are being urged by Waikato Regional Council to up their safety game when on the water ahead of two consecutive long holiday weekends.
It follows concern that almost 10 per cent of the 730 recreational skippers surveyed in the Waikato so far this summer were not wearing lifejackets when lawfully required to do so – up from 6 per cent last year. More than 60 infringement notices have been issued.
“Just like a seatbelt, lifejackets save lives,” said Waikato Regional Council’s Regional Harbourmaster Richard Barnett. “It’s the most important thing you can do to increase your chances of survival if something goes wrong.
“We have had a much higher number of vessels on our inland and coastal waterways over summer so far, due to New Zealanders holidaying at home. With this in mind, we did bolster our number of maritime officers patrolling waterways and talking to fellow boaties.
“Most skippers have been well prepared, carrying the right safety gear and following the local boating rules. But there have still been a number either ignoring the rules or new to boating who don’t know what the rules even are. There’s simply no excuses for it,” Mr Barnett said.
In the Waikato region, lifejackets – the right size and regularly serviced – are required to be worn on moving vessels six metres or under. This also includes people on kayaks, waka ama and paddleboards.
Communication is also an essential part of safe boating, Mr Barnett said. “Yet so far this summer we’ve had 14 per cent not carrying waterproof communications, with 6 per cent out with no communications at all.
“It can be anything from a mobile phone in a waterproof bag to something as simple as a whistle. It’s about having the ability to call for help if the need arises.”
Mr Barnett expected the next two long weekends in the Waikato will continue to be busy on the water. “No matter how experienced you are, help keep you and others safe by ensuring you have a plan of action and know the local conditions.”
Another issue observed by maritime officers this summer includes vessels towing without observers and towing through mooring zones, which is prohibited. If using towing access lanes keep to the right and, after taking off from shore, head out to open space to enjoy your watersport, continuing in an anticlockwise direction before returning back to the ski lane.
Keep an eye out for others in the area and watch your speed – the 5 knot rule applies within 50 metres of other vessels and people in the water.
Boaties coming into Whitianga Harbour are also reminded to be aware of their speed. It is a 5 knot, no wake zone, with regular ferry crossings and a lot of activity happening at the wharf that skippers should be mindful of, Mr Barnett said.
For more information on the rules, visit waikatoregion.govt.nz/navigation.