Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) and the New Zealand Police are linking up to spread the word on safety to recreational boaties in the Marlborough Sounds this Easter.
Maritime Officers will join the Wellington Police launch Lady Elizabeth IV on Queen Charlotte Sound on Good Friday and Saturday, handing out free safe boating packs and making sure those on the water are following key safety practices.
MNZ Maritime Officer Domonic Venz said the focus of the exercise was very much on education.
'If we see people acting dangerously we will certainly take action, but this is about making sure boaties are aware of what they can, and should, be doing to stay safe,' he said. 'We know it’s a holiday weekend and people will be taking the opportunity to get out on the water if the weather allows, but it’s important that skippers take responsibility so that everyone gets back to shore safely.
'Every boat should have enough suitable lifejackets for everyone on board - that’s the law - and we recommend that lifejackets are worn at all times on vessels under 6m in length,' he said. 'Boaties should be checking the weather before they go out, and have two forms of communication that will work when wet in case they need to call for help. They should also avoid alcohol - it slows reactions times and reduces survival times if you end up in the water.'
If boaties are relying on cellphones for communication they should be in sealable plastic bags - there’s one in each safe boating pack. Ziplock bags are a cheap and effective way to keep your phone dry and usable.
'Cellphones won’t work if they’re wet - and boaties should also be aware of limitations of cellphone coverage in places like the Sounds,' Mr Venz said.
Waterproof VHF radios are a good option, as are distress beacons, which should be registered for free at: beacons.org.nz
MNZ free safe boating packs contain a copy of 'Safe Boating: essential guide' (a comprehensive 44-page booklet covering all aspects of how to stay safe on the water (seas, rivers and lakes)), a cellphone bag, bar crossing and boating safety stickers, information on educational courses, and a leaflet on distress beacons.
Safe boating packs are available free through the MNZ website at: maritimenz.govt.nz/freepack