Maritime NZ calls for Boaties to put Safety First as Boat Sales Skyrocket

16 December 2020

With boat sales skyrocketing as Kiwis stay home this summer, Maritime NZ is urging boaties to get to grips with safety before heading out on the water.

The NZ Marine Industry Association is seeing record boat sales and Maritime NZ says harbourmasters are already reporting many new boaties on the water this season.

Peter Busfield of NZ Marine Industry Association says sales have doubled over the last quarter.

“Boat sales from July to November have doubled on last year and order books are filling up production for 2021.

“Manufacturers and their retailers are experiencing record sales and this is backed up by the increase of apprentices signed up over the last four months - 170 in the four months to November 2020 compared with 40 in the same period last year.

“So in addition to record boat sales we are seeing record employment of apprentices to build the boats that are being sold.”

Maritime NZ Manager Sector Engagement and Collaboration Baz Kirk, says there is already a noticeable increase in boating activity from last year, with more people exploring their own backyards due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“The spike in new boaties has been marked, and we’re hearing that many have only owned their boats for a couple of weeks."

“Research shows there’s now 1.7 million Kiwis out on the water every year – including people on jetskis, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards.”

Kirk says with more new boaties hitting the water this summer, it’s vital everyone – no matter how experienced - makes sure they know, understand and follow the rules.

"If you’re heading out, you need a plan – no matter how experienced you are. That means wearing lifejackets, carrying two forms of waterproof communication such as a personal locator beacon, VHF radio or a cellphone in a waterproof case, checking the weather and avoiding alcohol."

“I’d also urge people to do some training – Coastguard offers a great Day Skipper course which covers all the basics. This course helps recreational boat users avoid getting into difficulties by helping them understand the maritime environment, the capabilities of their water craft, the rules of the sea, and what to do in an emergency.

“Above all else, we’re asking everyone to follow the Boating Safety Code and remember the ‘Prep, check, know’ mantra: prep your boat, check your gear, know the rules.”

For more information about how to stay safe on the water this summer, check out the Safer Boating website.

Notes for editors:

  • Maritime NZ’s annual survey of recreational boaties, conducted by research firm Ipsos, shows that approximately 1.7 million Kiwis are involved in recreational boating and using an increasingly diverse array of water craft. That’s around one in every two kiwis (45% of all New Zealanders) - the first increase in four years.
  • Paddling now has the highest level of participation on NZ’s waters. Power boating is the second most popular activity and safety continues to be a concern with those in boats under 6m.
  • The survey shows that while most boaties (84%) rate safety as important, there is still work to be done to ensure everyone keeps themselves safe. Around 20% still report that they wear a lifejacket either never, not very often, or only some of the time, and one in four report that they never, not every often, or only some of the time check the marine or mountain forecast before going out on the water.
  • Provisional statistics* show 14 people have died in recreational boating accidents in New Zealand waters in the year to date (as at 8 December 2020). Twenty-three people died in 2019, up from four deaths in 2018. In 2017 there were 19 fatalities, 13 in 2016, and 24 in 2015. [*statistics can change according to coronial findings].
  • Key risk factors for recreational boaties are failure to wear lifejackets all the time; inability to communicate for help when an accident happens; failure to check the weather forecast before going out; and alcohol use
  • Two-thirds of recreational boating fatalities might have been prevented if people wore their lifejacket.
  • In 59% of fatal incidents, inadequate communication as a contributing factor. This does not mean the people would necessarily have been saved but it made it harder to find and rescue them.
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