‘Phenomenal’ response to life jacket swap scheme in city

Coastguard Dunedin president John Campbell looks on while Read Marine Ltd salesman Richard...
Coastguard Dunedin president John Campbell looks on while Read Marine Ltd salesman Richard Warrington wears an old, bulky foam life jacket and displays more modern inflatable models. Photo: Gregor Richardson
More than 100 Dunedin small-boat owners yesterday seized the chance to trade in their old life jackets for  heavily-discounted new ones.

Sue Tucker, community ambassador for Coastguard New Zealand and Hutchwilco, yesterday said the Dunedin response to the trade-in scheme had been "phenomenal" and "just outstanding".

But she warned there was a "huge issue" with old, unserviceable life jackets, including split kapok jackets, being retained.

"Ninety per cent of the jackets that have come back are no longer fit for the purpose."

Such kapok jackets were "actually dangerous". Rather than buoying people up , "they would actually drag them down", she warned.

The Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade  is a key part of  Coastguard New Zealand’s advocacy for safe and enjoyable boating.

Many people were already coming in with their old life jackets when she  arrived about half an hour before the official 2pm start of the planned Dunedin trade-in session.

By about 3pm, 60 jackets had been traded in, and she estimated that more than 200 jackets had been exchanged  by the 6pm end of the session, at the premises of Read Marine Ltd, in Kitchener St. Several Coastguard Dunedin members  helped with the trade-in session, and president John Campbell praised the "great response". He was  pleased many outdated life jackets, some of them in dangerous condition, were  traded in.

Ms Tucker, of Auckland, was pleased  many small boat skippers were making a positive response to water safety needs.

Modern life jackets were generally more comfortable to wear for long periods on  boats and were also much safer than some older, bulky jackets.

Wanaka Coastguard president Jonathan Walmisley recently said he was "thrilled" that the Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade van was visiting Otago and Southland for the first time in the four years the scheme had been running.

The Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade van’s visit to Dunedin yesterday was preceded by visits to seven other centres elsewhere in Otago and Southland since January 7.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz 

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