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Harbourmaster calls for drunk boating laws

by Sail-World Cruising on 18 Feb 2014
Drunk boating is SO 70’s SW
After a number of incidents involving alcohol and boats in New Zealand, one of them causing serious injury to involved parties, Queenstown Lakes Harbourmaster has spoken out, calling for 'a law to test boaters for their level of intoxication' to be made New Zealand-wide.

Martin Black's comments, published by the Otago Times, came this week just after the jet-boat driven by two Queenstown men, who had been drinking, hit rocks near the Kawarau Falls Bridge at Frankton, on Friday, about 10.45pm.

The harbourmaster was joined by Coastguard Queenstown, police, Frankton and Queenstown volunteer fire brigades, St John Queenstown and a rescue helicopter in a major search and rescue operation when the initial report was there were more than two people in the water in distress.

The pair were found by the coastguard at 11.24pm, about 100m downstream of the bridge. The boat had some damage, but the two men were uninjured.

The men were tested by police on site and Mr Black said one registered 690mcg and the other was also over the legal limit of 400mcg.

The other incident purported to involve alcohol occurred this week also, with a speed boat with two people on board ramming two stationary yachts at a wharf in West Auckland, then sliding over the wharf and sinking.

The incident caused serious damage to one of the yachts, in which a family of four was sleeping, and injuries to a number of those involved.

'Boating is the last bastion where you can probably drink till you're drunk and the chances of getting picked up for a misdemeanour, with the exception of Queenstown and a couple of areas, are remote.

'If it's a hot day and you're sitting somewhere, have a beer. No problem at all. But if you're over 400mcg, you've had a few.

'You're not allowed to drive on the road like that, so why should you on the water?

The issue of testing came to the fore when the national Pleasure Boat Safety Forum wrote to the New Zealand Transport Minister about five years ago, but nothing happened, he told the Otago Times.
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