Coastguard strongly urges boaties to be vigilant this summer

Two high profile boating incidents occurring in the last 24 hours are pertinent reminders for boaties to keep safe at sea over the holiday season. Coastguard Bluff came to the rescue of a critically damaged yacht last night which struck a submerged object in the Tasman Sea. Meanwhile, the Coastguard Thames crew responded to a yacht that had caught fire in Te Kouma harbour at 3:15am this morning.

These incidents are typical of the work Coastguard volunteers do, and come with a strong reminder for anyone heading out on the water this summer to stay safe and be vigilant. Last year there were 19 boating related fatalities and Coastguard strongly urges boaties to know the Boating Safety Code and stick to it.

“It’s essential to know basic safety rules when going out on the water. Coastguard recommends that everyone on board a boat less than 6 metres should wear a lifejacket at times of heightened risk. Most accidents occur suddenly, with no warning – there may be no time to grab a lifejacket, and it is extremely difficult to put one on in the water. Boats can sink very quickly and wearing a lifejacket is easily the simplest way to increase your survival time in the water if things go wrong. Lifejackets are now more comfortable and fit-for-purpose than ever with the modern inflatable jacket leaving no reason not to wear one,” says Coastguard CEO Patrick Holmes.

After a number of recent bar tragedies, Coastguard warns people to do their homework before crossing bars this summer.

“There are many things boaties can do to safely cross a bar, such as making a trip report to Coastguard when entering and exiting a bar, checking the weather and tide conditions, and asking locals for advice,” says Mr Holmes.

Becoming a Coastguard member is another way to keep safe on the water, whether you break down or get a flat battery, you’ve got peace of mind every time you hit the water knowing Coastguard has got your back. Go to https://www.coastguard.nz/membership/.

Coastguard is also running its Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade through to the start of February encouraging boaties and members of the public to bring along their old lifejackets and trade them in for a brand new fit for purpose quality lifejacket at a great trade-in discount. This is a big part of Coastguard’s safe boating message and is a great chance for Kiwis to get sorted for summer. The Old4New van fully laden with lifejackets is travelling around New Zealand on weekends and key days throughout the summer holiday period.

The five simple rules of the Boating Safety Code are:

• Life Jackets: Take them – Wear them.
Boats, especially ones under 6m in length, can sink very quickly. Wearing a life jacket increases your survival time in the water.

• Communications
Take two separate waterproof ways of communicating so we can help you if you get into difficulties.

• Marine Weather
New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the local marine weather forecast before you go and expect both weather and sea state changes.

• Avoid Alcohol
Safe boating and alcohol do not mix. Things can change quickly on the water. You need to stay alert and aware.

• Skipper Responsibility
The skipper is responsible for the safety of everyone on board and for the safe operation of the boat. Stay within the limits of your vessel and your experience. Take a Coastguard Boating Education Course, like Day Skipper, Boatmaster and marine VHF radio training - www.boatingeducation.org.nz

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