Kaipara boaties are being warned by Maritime New Zealand not to become part of the usual “statistic spike” of mishaps and even fatalities at sea as the summer season gets underway at Labour weekend.
Chair of the Safer Boating Forum and Maritime NZ deputy director, Sharyn Forsyth, says “it’s time for boaties to prepare their boats, check their gear and know the rules.
Last summer 1.51 million adults in New Zealand — about 42% of the adult population — took part in recreational boating and records show that 19–20 boaties, on average, die each year (based on last five years) with 19 last year and three this year as at October 1.
“There is a pattern of fatalities spiking over the warmer summer months. We know that boaties start getting in the water from Labour weekend and we want to urge them to make sure they are ready for it,” Ms Forsyth says.
“Checking lifejackets is something every boatie should do each time before going out on the water. It’s too late if you discover a fault when you’ve capsized and really need your lifejacket.”
Manufacturers advise modern lifejackets will last about 10 years. “If your lifejackets are 10 years old, check them thoroughly with an eye to replacing them and destroying the old ones. Don’t sell them or give them away — that creates a safety problem for another family.
“Worryingly, many Kiwi boaties are still relying on kapok-filled lifejackets that are 30 to 50 years old and should be destroyed immediately.”
Research shows that two-thirds of recreational boating fatalities may have been avoided if people wore lifejackets all the time.
“If you are on the water when you discover a problem with your boat or equipment, or that you do not know an important safety rule, then it is too late, and people are in danger,” Ms Forsyth said.
More information about safer boating can be found on Facebook facebook.com/saferboating and for lifejackets at maritimenz.govt.nz/lifejackets.