Make a splash this summer
The Marlborough District Council's water patrols have kicked into high gear this week, with daily patrols in the Sounds running until the end of January.
With the festive season upon us the number of boats, both power and sail, in the popular water sports area has begun to increase rapidly.
According to MDC harbourmaster Alex Van Wijngaaden, about 10,000 small boats actively use the Sounds during the peak summer period.
"We started weekend patrols from Labour Weekend and daily patrols from December 17 until the end of January," said Mr Van Wijngaaden.
"We definitely get an increase in the number of bylaws being broken by boat users over this period."
Breaking the 9kmh (five knots) speed limit when within 200 metres of shore was one of the biggest dangers, said Mr Van Wijngaaden. Another danger was cutting too close to points at speed.
"Most people who kayak - and especially swimmers - do so close to shore, and if you are driving a boat at speed it will often be too late to avoid hitting someone.
"Also, coming around a point too close and at speed doesn't give you enough chance to see if another boat is coming in the opposite direction."
Members of the public who wish to report boaties flouting the rules are to contact the MDC offices on 03 520 7400.
An official will be on duty to take calls and institute immediate action against the offenders, said Mr Van Wijngaaden.
He said many residents believe that Port Marlborough is responsible for policing the boats in the Marlborough Sounds but this is incorrect, and this job falls to the MDC.
As always lifejackets are an essential part of the safety kit on board, and it is best if all occupants on a boat wear one.
"People have started to get better about wearing lifejackets, but there are, of course, still those who don't.
"You may not think you need one until you fall overboard and get into difficulty."
While it is not illegal to have alcohol aboard a boat, the same rule as driving a car is to be followed, with drinking and driving not allowed.
Mr Van Wijngaaden also stressed for boaties to make sure that all equipment is serviced and in good working order, especially the boat engine, before heading out.
The MDC has more information on boating safety in a safe-boating brochure on their website - click on the "recreation" link.
The Marlborough Sounds is one of the finest boating playgrounds around; so stick to the law and ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable time.
- The Marlborough Express