Look after each other on the water this summer

17 December 2010

Sticking to a safe speed, watching your wake and keeping a careful lookout are among the top boating tips to ensure a safe summer on the water, says Maritime New Zealand (MNZ).

Regional harbourmasters are working with MNZ to remind all boaties that their safety on the water this holiday season lies in each other’s hands.

“There is a maritime tradition that boaties help each other when out when something goes wrong on the water, but this support needs to carry into all behaviour on the water,” says Jim Lott, MNZ’s Manager of Recreational and Small Craft.

“This means following a few commonsense simple rules on the water to ensure everyone enjoys a safe summer – and these aren’t rocket science.

“Harbourmasters agree that safe speed is one of the most important safety rules for small vessels, but also one of the hardest to enforce,” Mr Lott says.

“More complaints are received about speed and excessive wake than any other issue. Slow down, enjoy the trip more and save fuel.”

Experience shows that if a marked harbourmaster or maritime police is on patrol, boaties comply with speed requirements, but if caught by an unmarked patrol boat, many profess not to understand the speed rules. 

“High speeds create a wake which rolls other boats around causing discomfort and potential injuries to those onboard. Always look behind to check whether your wake is causing a problem to others – that’s the message from harbourmasters and MNZ this summer.”

Mr Lott says the “five by five” method is the easiest way to remember your safe speed obligations when out on the water.

There are five situations when you are required to slow your speed to 5 knots (9km/hr), or a fast walking pace. These include:

  • within 200 metres of the shore;
  • within 50 metres of another watercraft;
  • within 50 metres of a swimmer;
  • within 200 metres of a dive flag (Flag A of the international code of signals);
  • when any passengers are “bow riding”.

“There are also a number of other important but simple rules to ensure safe and trouble-free boating,” says Mr Lott. “This includes following basic ‘rules of the road’ on the water, which include keeping to the right of oncoming boats and maintaining a careful lookout at all times.

“Before you go out, also make sure you check the weather – and when on the water, wear your lifejacket, carry at least two forms of reliable communications, and avoid alcohol.”

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