Kaikoura boaties the focus for Waitangi weekend

Boaties heading out on the water at Kaikoura over the Waitangi Day weekend should not be surprised by a visit from the Wellington-based police launch, Lady Elizabeth IV.

Maritime NZ is teaming up with the New Zealand Police and Environment Canterbury for a recreational boating safety campaign aimed at ensuring boaties are aware of safety guidelines and following lifejacket rules.

Environment Canterbury’s navigation safety bylaw requires boaties on vessels less than 6m in length to wear a lifejacket at all times when they are underway. Failure to do so can lead to a fine of $300 for the skipper and $150 for any crew or passengers not wearing approved lifejackets.

Maritime rules make it the skipper’s legal responsibility to ensure that lifejackets are worn on board any size of recreational vessel in situations of heightened risk, such as when crossing a bar, in rough weather or water, or during an emergency.

Maritime NZ’s Assistant Regional Compliance Manager South, Domonic Venz, said the Waitangi weekend joint operation follows a similar visit to Marlborough Sounds over New Year.

“We visited more than a hundred boats in the Sounds, and generally there was very good compliance with lifejacket rules,” said Domonic. “But we were able to provide some good advice to people on other essential equipment.

“One person had a distress flare on board with an expiry date of 1991 – at that age a flare can be very unstable and could well have started a fire that destroyed his boat in his garage, let alone being a risk on the water.”

Expired flares should be taken to the nearest police station for disposal.

Environment Canterbury and Maritime NZ recommend that boaties wear lifejackets at all times, carry two means of communication that will work when wet, avoid alcohol, check marine forecasts before going out, and act responsibly as skippers to ensure everyone aboard gets home safely.

Gary Manch, Navigation Safety Officer for Environment Canterbury, said while the focus of the Kaikoura operation is to provide information, action will be taken if boaties are found to be operating in an unsafe manner.

“Navigation Safety Officers are responsible for educating people about water safety and can issue infringement notices to those who don’t comply with navigational safety bylaws,” he said. “We can also ask a skipper not to go out on the water due to the condition of the weather, sea, vessel or crew.”