Safety first essential when boaties go out

16:05, Dec 31 2013
Southland Times photo
Queenstown Lakes District harbourmaster Marty Black (left) along with Jennifer Forrest and water warden Louis Adamsom aboard patrol jetskis on Queenstown Bay. Mr Black has warned boaties and river users to expect patrollers to pop up anywhere, anytime over the holiday period and to ensure they use lifejackets and obey water safety rules - or face the consequences.

New Zealanders are known to have a love of fishing, jet boating and pretty much all water sports.

However, the love of the water turns deadly more times than people expect and New Zealand has one of the highest drowning rates for a developed country.

Drowning was consistently the third highest cause of unintentional death in New Zealand, surpassed only by road vehicle crashes and accidental falls.

In the Queenstown Lakes district it was compulsory to wear a life jacket at all times in any boat under six metres.

Queenstown harbour master Marty Black said the area led the way bringing in the by-law and ''even if it only saves one life it's worth it''.

In the past five weeks at least eight people received $300 fines for not following the rule.


Mr Black said following simple boating rules was important to stay safe.

These include checking weather forecasts, telling someone your plans, not overloading the boat, making sure on boats more than six metres there were enough lifejackets for those on board and keeping alcohol to a minimum.

Central Otago harbourmaster Shayne Hitchcock said the keep right rule and travelling within five knots of another vessel, raft or swimmers were the two rules that stringently needed to be followed.

''They are the main issues in recreational lakes like Lake Dunstan and they (the rules) are there for a good reason,'' Mr Hitchcock said.

Every year more boaties were arriving in the area to make the most of the conditions and while wearing a life jacket on Lake Dunstan was not compulsory Mr Hitchcock said it was vital they were worn.

''It's like jumping into a car and putting your seatbelt on. It's getting into your boat and putting on your life jacket,'' he said.

Mr Hitchcock said the courtesy of jet skiers around other people will be closely monitored this summer.


The Mirror