Harbourmaster sounds warning ahead of Labour Weekend

Deputy harbourmaster Pete Dryden (left) and harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook with the harbourmaster...
Deputy harbourmaster Pete Dryden (left) and harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook with the harbourmaster’s vessel, Kaitiaki, which will be based Central Otago this year. Photo: Supplied
As the summer boating season kicks off, Otago Regional Council harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook is looking for safe boating behaviour all over Otago.

Labour Weekend is traditionally the start of the recreational boating season in New Zealand, with hundreds of people taking to Otago’s coastal waters, harbours, lakes and rivers.

"If you’re pulling your boat out of storage for the first time in a while, take the time to do a thorough check of the vessel and all gear. Prep your boat, safety equipment, check the conditions and know the rules," Mr Rushbrook said.

"For those new to boating, please stop, think, and find out about basic boating safety rules to protect you and your loved ones."

Labour Weekend is part of Safer Boating Week, and also heralds the launch of the harbourmaster’s Summer Safety Campaign.

The theme of this year’s campaign is, "The water is calling", and urges people to "know the ways of the water before you let go of the land" and ensure they have a safer boating plan sorted.

"Safer Boating Week is about raising awareness and change behaviours to see everyone going out on boats to be fully prepared if danger should strike," Mr Rashbrook said.

ORC’s harbourmaster team now have a new vessel which allows them to patrol both the Otago coastal area and Central Otago waterways this summer.

"No matter if you’re on a power boat, jet ski or kayak, remembering the boating safety code is integral."

The Boating Safety Code reinforces five key messages:

• Wear your lifejacket

• Take two waterproof ways to call for help

 •Check the marine weather forecast

• Avoid alcohol – booze and boats don’t mix

• Be a responsible skipper

The official Labour Weekend holiday period begins at 4pm on Friday, October 21 and ends on Tuesday, October 23 at 6am.  Monday, Labour Day, is a public holiday.