Take care on water, harbourmasters say

Lake Dunstan, like other lakes and waterways in the South, is attracting increasing numbers of...
Lake Dunstan, like other lakes and waterways in the South, is attracting increasing numbers of boats and other watercraft as users relax into their summer holidays. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
With the likelihood of more people, who are possibly less experienced, taking to the South’s lakes, rivers and ocean these summer holidays, Otago harbourmasters are urging caution on the water.

As people buy boats like they are going out of fashion, Queenstown-Lakes harbourmaster Marty Black says educating less experienced boaties is vital, and some of the responsibility lies between boating friends.

Every boatie, experienced or inexperienced, needed to have a "prep, check and know" plan, he said.

That involved preparing craft and equipment before leaving home to ensure it was water safe; and checking whether gear, including life jackets, were fit for purpose and that two waterproof methods of making an emergency call were on board.

The "know" referred to people knowing how to be responsible by matching their plans to their confidence on the water, as well as what the weather was forecast to do.

"Even on a paddleboard, you do some prep before you go out," Mr Black said.

"When things turn pear-shaped, it is not like on the road when your car breaks down you can just stop ... out in the local waterway, your boat can sink and you are in trouble."

Earlier this month McLay Boats owner Steve McLay said demand for boats was the highest it had been in his 33 years of boat building.

Otago Regional Council harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook, who is based in Dunedin, said there could be a knock-on effect in the number of people taking boats out.

"The numbers are certainly up in regards to people boating recreationally because of the amount of boat sales ... so that is going to have a knock-on effect."

From a navigational safety point of view, he had not yet seen significant "uplift" on the water, but he expected that would happen in Central Otago, more so than Dunedin.

The surge in boat purchases also increased the chance of people being out who were new to boating, he said.

"It is the standard safety messaging from us — life jackets, check the weather, two forms of communication.

"If in doubt, don’t go out."

A project to install CCTV at the Taieri Mouth bar — where at least three significant accidents including boats capsizing happened this year alone — is under way to make crossing it safer.

It will allow people to view live video of the bar, which is notorious for moving, online for free.

As of yesterday, about $1000 of the $50,000 target had been raised on a Givealittle page for the camera.


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