Education for yachties wins support
Nelson offshore yacht inspector Dave Pinker supports a new finding that better education is needed among foreign yachties leaving New Zealand shores.
He was speaking after the release yesterday of an independent review of the search last year for missing American yacht Nina.
It found the Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand "went beyond what many overseas authorities would have conducted" in the search last June and July.
The Nina set sail from New Zealand on May 29 last year bound for Australia with seven people on board, including owner David Dyche III, 58, his wife, Rosemary, 60, and their son David Dyche Jr, 17.
It was last heard from on June 4.
Yachting New Zealand safety regulations require Kiwi yachts to have category one safety certificates before leaving on ocean passages. The rules, which ensure the boat design and construction is suitable for the journey, the safety and communication equipment is up to standard and the skipper and crew are capable of undertaking the voyage safely, do not apply to foreign yachts.
Maritime NZ said yesterday there was no information to suggest the Nina was unseaworthy.
Independent reviewer David Baird, former general manager of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's emergency response division, has recommended in his review the need to develop measures to improve cruising boat safety.
Maritime New Zealand said that would not go as far as requiring foreign yachts to abide by the same rules that applied to New Zealand yachts, but it could conduct education programmes targeting overseas yachts calling at New Zealand ports.
The recommendation also included greater emphasis on the need for comprehensive passage planning and a communications plan, and an education campaign that described the New Zealand SAR system and capability, and which also outlined the communication systems that could be expected to be on board a yacht making a voyage outside New Zealand's VHF radio network.
A brochure could be developed and delivered by NZ Customs to each visiting foreign yacht when they cleared customs inward, the review found.
Pinker, who is Nelson's only category one inspector and was on a yacht heading to Tonga in the area that Nina disappeared, said category one rules that applied to New Zealand boats were among the world's toughest. New Zealand had a correspondingly high safety record.
Past efforts to impose the rules on foreign yachts met significant resistance, including the threat of legal action against the authority seeking to introduce them.
Pinker agreed there needed to be better education, and while he was aware that some boats coming in and out of Nelson did not meet New Zealand standards, most were managed and sailed by "extremely competent" people.
Pinker cleared 15 to 20 boats a year from Nelson and in the 40 years he has been an inspector he has turned down only one.
"It was a very small boat and an elderly person sailing it with health issues.
"Sometimes I have to visit a boat a second time because of a shortfall, but the average offshore sailor leaving from Nelson is very qualified and very sensible, and knows what's out there."
New Zealand and Australian authorities searched extensively for the Nina and the families of the crew funded additional expeditions.
On July 6 last year the search for the Nina was suspended by the rescue centre after no sightings were reported and all possible areas where the vessel could have been were investigated.
The centre was criticised by family members of the missing sailors, who thought it had not done enough in the search for the yacht and crew.
Baird conducted the review at the request of Maritime NZ director Keith Manch.
MNZ's general manager of safety and response services Nigel Clifford said centre staff were "extremely disappointed" that the search did not have a positive outcome.
The Nelson Mail