Safety the key message for boaties heading into summer

Navigation Safety Officer Gary Manch wants safety to be at the forefront of people’s minds before they head back to the water this summer.

Labour Weekend, which arrives next week, traditionally marks the beginning of the boating season across the country with the weather improving.

Manch, Environment Canterbury’s navigation safety officer, said people could expect to see more boats, jet skis and paddle craft on the water from next weekend.

“The main thing we want to stress to people throughout Canterbury is that by taking the correct safety precautions, they can return home safe to their families after a day on the water,” Manch said.

'Prep, check, know'

New Zealand’s first Water Safety Month was launched in Auckland today because too many people are dying in New Zealand waters.

Maritime New Zealand will start the month with Safer Boating Week beginning on Monday. The theme is “prep, check, know” – prep your boat, check your gear and know the rules before getting back on the water.

Manch said that was a valuable message for boaties of all levels.

“Now is the time to test and check your equipment following winter to ensure everything is up to speed for the summer.”

Find out more about the Navigation Safety Bylaw 2016 information and general recreational boating tips

Canterbury has seen a rise in paddleboarders recently and Manch said they needed to be mindful of the conditions.

“Wearing a lifejacket and being comfortable in the area you are paddleboarding is important,” Manch said.

“Also, ensuring you have a tether will help you remain safe.”

'No Excuses' this summer

Environment Canterbury is one of 18 regulatory bodies from around New Zealand that will take part in the ‘No Excuses’ campaign this summer.

The fourth annual campaign began on October 12 and involves harbourmasters and Maritime New Zealand maritime officers working side by side for at least five random days in each region during the summer.

The Maritime Transport Act and council bylaws require lifejackets to be carried and worn and for boats, including jet skis, to travel at five knots or less within 200 metres of shore and divers, and within 50 metres of swimmers and other boats. Infringement notices of up to $300 can be issued for boaties who break these rules.

Manch said the main problem among Canterbury boaties last summer was people exceeding the five-knot speed limit, but lifejacket compliance was strong.