Focus on water safety

Boaties warned to stick to the rules

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 12:06 24/12/2013
Marty Black, Jennifer Forrest and Louis Adamson
GRANT BRYANT/Fairfax NZ
Queenstown Lakes District harbourmaster Marty Black, left, Jennifer Forrest and water warden Louis Adamson aboard patrol jetskis on Queenstown Bay. Mr Black has warned boaties and river users to use lifejackets and obey water safety rules – or face the consequences.

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Boaties should be aware that water wardens will be enforcing water safety bylaws this coming holiday period.

Speaking from a patrol jetski on Queenstown Bay yesterday, Queenstown Lakes District harbourmaster Marty Black said he had a simple message for boaties - stick to the rules or face the consequences.

Of most concern was the enforcement of the Queenstown Lakes District Council's bylaw that every person aboard a boat less than six metres in length must wear a lifejacket at all times.

"We know that properly fitting lifejackets save lives on the water, in the same way that seat belts save lives on the roads," Mr Black said.

"There are five jetskis and patrollers and while some might be assigned to Lake Wakatipu, Lake Wanaka or some of our busier rivers at certain times on certain days, we will be floating and patrolling where its busiest. So people need to be aware that we could pop up anywhere, any time."

Wearing lifejackets that fitted properly was crucial, especially for children. "Children need to wear a life jacket that fits them properly. You can't put a small child in an adult's life jacket - they will just slip straight out, and we've seen some recent tragedies in other parts of the country where that has happened."

Queenstown and Wanaka's status as backpacker havens was also of concern.

"Anyone borrowing kayaks and dinghies from friends or using gear loaned by their accommodation providers should remember to collect life jackets along with the paddles and oars."

The aim of boaties was to get out and have fun, but they needed to do it safely, Mr Black said.

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