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Timely Safety Reminders For Boaties As Navigation Bylaw Takes Effect

Did you know boating incidents must be reported under both maritime law and Council’s new navigation bylaw? Did you also know that you are required to carry properly fitted lifejackets on your boat?

These timely reminders from the Harbourmaster come as Marlborough’s Navigation Bylaw 2023 is poised to take effect from 20 December. The new bylaw was approved at today’s full Council meeting following a public consultation process which attracted eight submissions. The bylaw contains rules relating to maritime and navigation safety in Marlborough.

Marlborough’s Harbourmaster Captain Jake Oliver says it is a timely reminder with summer approaching for both recreational and commercial boaties to know the rules of safe boat use in the Marlborough Sounds.

A lack of understanding was highlighted recently when a boat sank in Picton Harbour and was not reported to officials.

“Debris was spotted by the master of the Interisland ferry who readied rescue boats and delayed the ferry’s passage to assist. Lots of resources were pulled in only to find there was no need,” Captain Oliver said.

“We later discovered it only took six minutes for the boat to sink and there were six adults and children on board. Fortunately, no-one was hurt but it is concerning this incident was reported. It’s a timely reminder to boaties such incidents are required to be reported by law.”

If you are in danger on the water, you should phone 111. If there has been a maritime incident but with no immediate danger to life, call Council. Incidents are also reported through the Marlborough Cruise Guide app to keep the general boating public aware.

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Encouraging safe speed is a particular focus for Harbour Patrol this summer, particularly in high-risk areas, some of which are marked with yellow 5 knot buoy markers. “Collisions at sea can be catastrophic and wake from speeding boats can be dangerous too. Consider the safety of other water users and always operate at a safe speed. It’s not just good sense, it’s also the law,” Captain Oliver said.

He reminds boaties it is also a requirement to carry enough lifejackets for everyone on board including dinghies and kayaks. This rule also applies to paddle boards, kiteboards, and windsurfers as well unless a wetsuit is worn. There are some other exceptions covered under the bylaw, but the general guidance is ‘take lifejackets and wear them’.

“Harbours will be keeping a close look at this over the summer and our team will be out on the water almost every day over summer. We want people to have a safe and enjoyable time on the water so if we see unsafe activity on the water we will intervene,” Captain Oliver said.

For more information on Marlborough’s Navigation Bylaw 2023 go to or visit the Marlborough Cruise Guide app.

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