Maritime NZ is urging recreational boat users to take greater caution and follow the Boating Safety Code, following several alarming incidents and near misses this summer.
Maritime NZ Principal Advisor Recreational Craft Matt Wood said that while most boaties seem to follow good practice, examples such as the rescue of Will Fransen off the coast of Whangamatā and various collisions around the country showed many were still risking their lives.
“We’re really pleased Mr Fransen made it home alive but we urge all boaties to not rely on luck as he did. In that incident, the fisherman was not adequately prepared – especially considering he was skippering alone offshore. To start with, he was not wearing a lifejacket and he did not have a personal locator beacon (PLB) on him.”
“Had he worn a personal locator beacon (PLB), he could have sent an alert immediately that would have been sent to all vessels in the area and he could have been rescued very quickly. The kayaker who was rescued off Palliser Bay this week did have a PLB on him and so when his mobile phone stopped working he used that to alert the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ, which sent a helicopter and Police boat to get him.”
Mr Wood said that the kayaker did several things right as he wore both a lifejacket and a wetsuit and had two forms of waterproof communication on him: a mobile phone in a waterproof bag and a PLB.
“Most incidents happen suddenly, and people enter the water with little or no warning and there is no time to put a life jacket on or grab your phone. Wearing a properly fitted life jacket gives you the best opportunity for survival should you end up in the water unexpectedly. Everyone out on the water should always have two waterproof ways to call for help and if you’re alone, one of these should be on your body.”
The Boating Safety Code says:
Wear your lifejacket
Take two waterproof ways to call for help
Check the marine weather forecast
Be a responsible skipper
Maritime New Zealand and its partners promote the code through engagement and education with recreational craft users and their associations and ongoing communications and advertising campaigns. Yet some people are not getting the message.
In the past two years, Maritime New Zealand also provided more than $1.6 million in community grants to 45 projects and initiatives that are aimed at reducing fatalities and risks.
A key purpose of the fund is to support campaigns and collaboration led by the members of New Zealand’s Safer Boating Forum, a coalition of organisations chaired by Maritime New Zealand dedicated to improving safety in the recreational boating sector.
Wood says it is disappointing that some people still choose not to follow the safety protocols.
“I also want to reiterate that it’s an offence to expose other water users to unnecessary risk. Regional council harbourmasters are on the water around the country monitoring for risky and illegal behaviour.”
“We ask people to know, understand, and follow the rules for the area they are boating in to limit the danger they put themselves and others in. And follow the Boating Safety Code every time you go on the water,” he says.