Most boaties follow lifejacket rules

Nearly all boaties are following lifejacket rules according to data from the first national survey of its kind in New Zealand.

The survey measured actual behavior of boaties observed on-the-water, and was based on surveys that included Bay of Plenty boaties run by Waikato Regional Council. In previous national surveys boaties reported what they would do or had done.

The initial results show 96 percent of boaties are following the lifejacket rules, and the Director of Maritime NZ, Keith Manch, is urging boaties to keep up the good work at Easter.

“The weather is forecast to clear during the weekend, and Easter is traditionally recreational boaties’ last big weekend before many put their boats away for winter. Wearing lifejackets is a great way to ensure the weekend doesn’t include tragedy,” says Keith.

 “If you are thinking about going out at the weekend, as well as wearing your lifejackets, I urge you to first check the MetService marine forecast. It includes information about sea swells and tides that is particularly important after a storm. If in doubt, don’t go out.”

The survey results show up to 93 percent of boaties were wearing lifejackets when they are required to. In addition, 96 percent were carrying enough lifejackets for everyone on board.

“These are excellent results. Wearing your lifejackets is the single most important thing you can do to help keep yourself safe on the water,” says Keith.

“This research suggests that message is getting through and boaties are doing the right things. We want that to continue.

“Plan and prepare before you go on the water and remember the common sense advice of the safer boating code: Wear your lifejacket, take two waterproof ways to call for help, check the marine weather forecast, avoid alcohol, and be a responsible skipper.

SURVEY SUMMARY

Staff from the harbour masters’ offices of eight councils’ and Maritime NZ surveyed 1,505 recreational boats over summer. All the vessels were on the sea, lakes or rivers. Lifejackets, communications equipment and dive flags were checked.

Initial results show 90 percent of vessels had some form of communication equipment, and 85 percent of those had waterproof communications equipment.

Of the boats surveyed, 102 were supporting divers but of those only 47 (46 percent) were displaying dive flags. For the safety of divers, boats must slow down to 5 knots within 200 metres of a dive flag. Without a flag showing, other boats do not know to slow down.

Of the 1,505 boats surveyed, most (1,231) had no offence detected, while 231 skippers were verbally warned for minor infractions, and 43 breach notices were issued at the time. Around 700 skippers were given educational material.

The councils that took part were Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough and Canterbury.

To view a preliminary report on the survey, visit www.maritimenz.govt.nz