October 17–24 has been declared Safer Boating Week this year, in what will become an annual focus on keeping boaties safe in the lead up to Labour Weekend – the traditional time to get boats and gear ready for summer.
Members of the National Pleasure Boat Safety Forum, chaired by Maritime NZ, will run a range of activities in the week aimed at getting three simple messages through to boat owners:
· Prep your boat – prepare you boat and make sure it’s safe
· Check your gear – check you have the right safety equipment and it’s working
· Know the rules – and know what to do if something goes wrong.
Announcing Safer Boating Week today (28 August, 2014), Maritime NZ Deputy Director and Forum chair Lindsay Sturt said the week’s activities would be led by Forum members – Maritime NZ, Water Safety New Zealand, NZ Search and Rescue Council, New Zealand Coastguard, Coastguard Boating Education, the NZ Marine Industry Association and Waikato Regional Council.
'Forum members will be taking a coordinated approach to making sure Kiwis going out on the water have a great time, but above all get home safely,' he said.
'We know one in every three New Zealanders goes out on the water. Messing about in boats is a national passion, but last year 19 people, mainly men, didn’t make it home. So far this year, 14 boaties have already died.'
The Forum recommends lifejackets should be worn at all times on boats less than 6 metres. As part of Safer Boating Week, boaties will be encouraged to check that their lifejackets, boats and safety gear are in good condition and serviced, and will be reminded that the skipper is responsible for the safety of all on board at all times.
'Preparation is essential before heading out on the water,' Mr Sturt says. 'That means making sure vessels are seaworthy, but it also includes ensuring boaties know what to do in an emergency and have reliable, waterproof means of calling for help.
'When things go wrong, they tend to go wrong very quickly. Being prepared will save lives.'
Activities during Safer Boating Week will range from the light-hearted – a national photo competition showing lifejackets being worn across a range of locations – to the serious business of bar crossings, carrying emergency communications and boat maintenance.
· Maritime NZ will lead activities around lifejackets and regulation. Maritime Officers will be at boat ramps around the country doing lifejacket checks and providing safety advice to boaties.
· Water Safety NZ’s focus will be drowning prevention, including cold water shock.
· Waikato Regional Council will focus on bar crossing, as well as encouraging boaties to download the handy MarineMate app.
· Coastguard Boating Education will focus on skipper education, while Coastguard NZ will highlight the need for vessel maintenance and rescue operations.
· NZSAR will promote beacon registration and use of emergency communications.
· The NZ Marine Industry Association will coordinate information about safety equipment and boats.
More details will be available on our web page – www.saferboating.org.nz
– in the lead-up to the week.
'We believe Safer Boating Week will deliver some serious information, great prizes and fun activities and look forward to it becoming an annual highlight of the boating calendar,' Mr Sturt says.