Suitable lifejackets could prevent deaths

Calls for recreational fishermen to wear suitable lifejackets have been repeated after the deaths of two men in Kaikoura.

Ronald Monk, 75, and Auguste Reinke, 79, drowned when their boat capsized on December 3 last year, coroner Christopher Devonport said in his findings released today.

The friends were checking cray pots about 200 metres offshore when it is believed their five-metre boat was hit by an unexpected wave, sending them overboard.

Their boat was found partially submerged by a passing boatie but the pair were nowhere to be seen.

The coastguard was alerted and Monk's body was found a short time later on the shore about 300 metres from where the boat was first located.

Reinke's body was found the next day.

Reinke was not wearing a lifejacket, while Monk wore an inflatable lifejacket that was not inflated.

Monk's lifejacket had automatic inflation capability, but this did not activate because the gas cylinder used to inflate the lifejacket was empty.

It had been previously activated through immersion in water and then deflated and repacked without being serviced, Devonport said.

It could have been manually inflated but this had not been done.

Devonport repeated recommendations of previous coroners that all boat users should wear lifejackets.

"To prevent deaths in circumstances similar to the deaths of Monk and Reinke, I reinforce the benefit of boat users wearing a suitable lifejacket and the importance of those lifejackets being maintained in an operational condition."

Maritime New Zealand regional compliance manager Domonic Venz said the tragic deaths reinforced the need for people going out on the water to not only wear lifejackets, but also to ensure the lifejackets were properly maintained.

"Inflatable lifejackets are ideal for people on boats because they allow those wearing them to move freely, but they must be maintained properly," Venz said.

"If a lifejacket has been inflated by the gas canister, the canister must be replaced as they do not retain gas for subsequent inflations.

"Inflatable lifejackets should be checked as part of your pre-boating safety checks every time you go out and be serviced every year."

It was important for people to wear lifejackets for their entire trip, as when trouble started it could be hard to find lifejackets, he said.

"There is often not enough time to locate and put on lifejackets, and even if they can be retrieved, it's difficult to put them on once in the water."