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New Zealand steps up life jacket rules

by Sail-World Cruising on 1 Jan 2014
Life jackets are essential in a dinghy .. .
Authorities in New Zealand are on the warpath for boat crews who do not wear life jackets when in a boat under six metres - this will include dinghies to sailing boats. With one of the highest death rates from drowning in the Western world, they are on a mission to make changes.

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

Queenstown harbour master Marty Black told the Southland Times that the area led the way bringing in the by-law for compulsory wearing of life jackets and 'even if it only saves one life it's worth it'.

In the past five weeks at least eight people in the Queenstown area 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.
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