Maritime New Zealand wants boaties to think about their responsibilities every time they go out
A Maritime New Zealand prosecution is a timely reminder about how quickly a trip out on the water can turn disastrous.
Jae-Ho Huh was sentenced on 27 May in the Auckland District Court after earlier pleading guilty to one charge under the Maritime Transport Act.
He was prosecuted after his 11-metre launch, with three people aboard, collided with the schooner SV Arcturus.
The collision occurred between Rangitoto Island and St Heliers in Auckland in March 2020. At the time, the launch was travelling under auto-pilot at between 15 and 20 knots (28-37 km/h).
Northern Compliance Manager Neil Rowarth says the incident was entirely avoidable.
"It doesn’t matter whether you have been on the water for decades, or have just recently purchased a water craft. Knowing the rules and safety advice protects you, those you care about and others in and on the water," he says.
Those on the SV Arcturus yelled and waved at the launch as it approached from behind, but it continued without slowing.
Mr Huh did not see the 18.3-metre long SV Arcturus until it was only 15-20 metres in front of him. He did not have time to disengage the autopilot or slow down before the collision.
Of the ten people on board the SV Arcturus, the skipper’s 13-year-old son was thrown into the harbour by the force of the collision and two passengers (a man and 12-year-old boy) jumped in for fear of injury. The skipper pulled the two boys back on board but could not reach the man who had drifted away.
Mr Huh then turned his launch to try to rescue the man but almost ran him over before colliding with SV Arcturus a second time.
"This incident could have had tragic consequences and been easily avoided if the skipper of the launch had been keeping proper lookout, had taken the appropriate action when overtaking the sailing vessel, and had been travelling more slowly.
"I urge everyone who has a boat to know about sailing and the rules of the sea - join a boat club, take Coastguard boating education lessons, and keep safe," he says.
"Comprehensive advice is available at Saferboating.org.nz. We recommend anyone planning on heading out know the five ways to be safe on the water."
Mr Huh has been fined $ $3,900 and ordered to pay reparations for consequential loss totaling $18,537.94, and additional reparation for emotional harm of $500 per victim.