Coastguard Expects Busy Labour Weekend on the water

Labour weekend is when most kiwis head outside to enjoy our coastline and traditionally it’s a busy weekend on the water. Coastguard New Zealand encourages boaties to get prepared and check their boats before heading out on our seas, lakes and rivers.

New Zealand’s weather and marine conditions are unpredictable and constantly changing therefore skippers must remain vigilant at all times and take necessary steps to keep their boats seaworthy and protect those on board.

“Things can change very quickly on the water, but thorough planning and preparation can make that critical difference between a safe day out and a tragedy,” says Patrick Holmes, CEO, Coastguard New Zealand.

“We’ve already seen too many boating tragedies this year and it’s imperative to get prepared before heading out this Labour Weekend. Long weekends traditionally see more people on the water and we encourage anyone in a boat, whether it be a launch, dinghy or kayak, to prepare adequately. A boat requires maintenance throughout the year but if the vessel has been neglected over winter it needs to be checked thoroughly before heading out on the water,” he said.

Labour Weekend last year saw Coastguard volunteers bring 234 people home safely and respond to 80 incidents over the three days. Over fifty percent of these call outs were for mechanical or electrical failures.

“Coastguard recommends skippers should get boat engines serviced at least once a year. They should also check batteries, fuel line, oil, propeller, water pump and other hardware frequently. Most of these situations could easily have been averted by preparation” said Holmes.

Coastguard recommends Skippers should always tell someone where they are going and when they plan to return. Coastguard New Zealand has a Two Minute form on its website for boaties to download, fill in and give to someone staying on land.

“It is vital that skippers know the Boating Safety Code and adhere to its five simple rules, including skipper responsibility and taking and wearing lifejackets. Finding accurate tide and marine weather forecast information before you launch and have two separate waterproof communication devices on board. And remember, safe boating and alcohol don’t mix.”

As part of a pilot programme, Coastguard will be launching an ‘Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade Campaign’ in Auckland’s northern region in early November. Long term Coastguard sponsor Hutchwilco and a retail partner are right behind the programme which will see Coastguard representatives at boat ramps around the greater Auckland region throughout the summer period. Boaties are encouraged to trade in their old lifejackets for a discounted upgrade on a new fit-for-purpose lifejacket.

“It’s about making lifejackets as accessible as we can and encouraging people to wear their lifejackets to help them enjoy their boating safely, they’ve never ruined a day on the water” said Hutchwilco Marketing Manager, Tim Ritchie.
Labour Weekend also marks the new lifejacket bylaws which come into enforcement for the Auckland region. Make sure you are familiar with the bylaws in your region.


Coastguard’s Water Safety Tips

1. Ensure that there is a life jacket for every person on board that is the correct size and fit.
2. Before you go on the water, always tell someone trustworthy (and preferably Coastguard) where you are going and what your intentions are. If something should happen, it will make the search and rescue efforts more efficient - meaning help will reach you faster.
3. Check the marine weather forecast before you launch. Coastguard’s NowCasting service offers free reliable and up-to-date information.
4. Avoid alcohol – safe boating and alcohol do not mix. Things can change quickly on the water and you need to stay alert and aware.
5. All vessels should have a VHF radio as the primary means of communication. Make sure you always carry a charged up cell phone as a backup option and keep it safe in a water proof bag.
6. As the skipper, you are responsible for your vessel and all of the people on board at all times. Make sure all passengers have been given a safety briefing and know what to do in an emergency should anything happen to the skipper.
For more information about Coastguard or to download the free “Boating Safety Guide” which features a simple check list to run through before you head out on the water for this summer visit

For more information contact:
Monique Caddy
National Communications Manager
Coastguard New Zealand
M: 021 420 653

About Coastguard New Zealand:
Coastguard is the charity that provides New Zealand’s primary maritime search and rescue service. The organisation operates from a network of four regions and 70 affiliated units, located around the coastline and major lakes of New Zealand. Coastguard New Zealand is a volunteer organisation with a charitable status. It has more than 2,320 active search and rescue Volunteers who provide over 315,000 hours of their time each year to educate, protect and help save lives at sea. Coastguard performed over 2,840 rescues to bring 7,334 New Zealanders home safely this past year. There are 78 dedicated rescue vessels in Coastguard New Zealand’s fleet, nine air patrol units and one dedicated communications unit. All crew members on board Coastguard vessels and air patrol craft are trained search and rescue personnel working to enhance the safety of all New Zealanders when they participate in boating and water activities.

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