Simple lifesaving tips essential

More Kiwis than ever are out boating, but this year’s recreational boating toll is “far too high” with 24 lives lost, compared to 19 last year, according to Maritime New Zealand.

“Our 2014 research tells us that we have a large boatie population with nearly 1 in 3 adults (29%) getting out on the water and that boaties’ safety behaviour could definitely improve,” said MNZ’s Education and Communication Manager, Pania Shingleton.

Research NZ’s findings that 79% of boaties believe it’s important to wear your lifejacket all the time was encouraging, she said. Amongst all New Zealanders, there was even stronger support (at 88%).
Maritime NZ has been asked by the Government to look at the national life jacket rule and provide policy advice early next year.

“In the Auckland region where a quarter of boaties live, we’re seeing both a growing immigrant population and a whole lot of new boaties who don’t necessarily have a strong understanding of how to keep themselves, their families, or their mates safe.

“However, it’s important to remember the majority of boaties who die are middle aged, European men. Maritime NZ is challenging men to stop being risk takers and use their lifejacket through the ‘Get it on or it’s no good’ TV advertising campaign which will run over summer,” Ms Shingleton said.

The 2014 research also showed a big growth in the number of Kiwis owning small vessels, which are more likely to be involved in boating incidents. The most popular small, under 6m, vessels owned are kayaks/canoes (320,000), powerboats (224,000), dinghys (192,000) and sail boats (64,000).

“Small vessels are far more vulnerable to sudden accidents and capsize. You can quickly get in trouble due to bad weather, rough seas or suddenly ending up in the water.”

MNZ and the NZ Safer Boating Forum recommend people:

  • wear lifejackets at all times
  • take two ways of communicating that work when wet
  • check the weather forecast
  • avoid alcohol.

The Research NZ study found:

  • A quarter of the boating population – of a total of 930,000 New Zealanders – is based in Auckland.
  • Only 70% of boaties say they wear a lifejacket at all times on the water. This rate is highest for kayakers and canoeists (83%), and falls to just over 60% for people in power boats and 55% for people in sail boats.
  • Two-thirds of all recreational vessel users said it is very important to carry at least two ways to call for help. However, only half (51%) actually do so.
  • Kayaking and canoeing is the fastest growing vessel group. About 10% of boaties report owning or using a kayak or canoe – followed by power boats under 6m (7%) and then dinghies (6%).
  • The reported total number of recreational vessels owned in New Zealand is more than 960,000, with more than half of these kayaks or canoes (320,000) and power boats under 6m (224,000).