Watch out for wild weather this weekend

As the last weekend of the summer boating season approaches, Coastguard strongly urges boaties to be prepared and check the forecast before going out.

This comes after an already storm-battered North Island is expected to receive more heavy weather during Easter weekend as Cyclone Cook – a category three storm – makes its way to New Zealand from New Caledonia.

“It’s essential for everyone to take proper safety precautions before heading out on the water this weekend, including checking the weather forecast and not going out on the water if it doesn’t look good,” says Coastguard CEO Patrick Holmes.

“New Zealand’s weather is highly unpredictable and can change in an instant. Coastguard recommends that everyone planning a day on the water should check the local marine weather forecast before they go and expect both weather and sea state changes.”

Boaties are also reminded that any reports of damaged vessels or vessels that have drifted from moorings should be directed to the relevant Harbour Master for each area.

Since the start of the boating season in October, Coastguard volunteers have spent over 7,000 hours assisting and rescuing boaties.

Incidents on the water have been varied, ranging from flat batteries and tows to more serious Search and Rescue operations.

“Volunteers have been flat-out all summer attending incidents – in January alone there were over 1,000 calls for assistance made,” says Mr Holmes.

This is typical of the work Coastguard volunteers do, and comes with a strong reminder for anyone heading out on the water this Easter weekend to stay safe and stick to the Boating Safety Code.

“As well as checking the forecast, Coastguard recommends that everyone on board a boat less than 6 metres should wear a lifejacket while underway. 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 the simplest way to increase your survival time in the water if things go wrong,” 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 www.coastguard.nz/membership/ to find out more.

The five simple rules of the Boating Safety Code:

• 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

• Life Jackets: Take them – Wear them.
Boats, especially 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.

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