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Don't let summer be your undoing – top tips to stay safe on the water this summer

by Maritime New Zealand 24 Dec 2020 21:57 NZDT 24 December 2020
Stay safe this summer © Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com

As the weather warms up and work winds down, most of us are itching to get to the beach, the lake or the river. And while there’s nothing like a beaut summer’s day on the boat, kayak, jetski or watercraft of your choice, you’ll want to keep yourself, and your loved ones, safe.

And as more and more of us - almost one in two Kiwis - get on the water than ever before, and with boat retailers experiencing record sales, staying safe is more important than ever.

So, what can you do to get the best out of your summer while still saying safe?

It’s all about planning, says Maritime NZ’s Manager of Sector Engagement and Collaboration, Baz Kirk.

“We’re excited to see so many Kiwis making the most of their own backyards and we’re expecting this summer to be one of the busiest boating seasons yet.

“But we’re also hoping that it’s not one of the busiest seasons for search and rescue organisations and emergency services. Every year about 20 people die in recreational boating incidents – many of which could have been prevented.

“We’re urging people to follow the Boating Safety Code and to always have a plan in case things do go wrong. We want everyone to have a great summer – and get home safely after a good day out.”

Here’s Maritime NZ’s tips for staying safe on the water this summer:

Lifejackets save lives

Research shows that about two thirds of recreational boating deaths might have been prevented if people were wearing their lifejackets. Putting on a decent lifejacket is one the simplest things you can do to stay safe on the water. Make sure lifejackets are the correct size, in good condition and suitable for the type of boating you do.

Who you gonna call?

If you do end up in the drink, you’re going to want to call for help. Having two forms of communications means you’re much more likely to be able to call for help if one ends up underwater or inaccessible. Always carry two forms of waterproof communication such as a distress beacon, VHF radio or a cellphone in a waterproof case.

What’s your plan?

No matter how experienced you are, you need to think ahead and be ready in case something does go wrong. Remember the simple mantra “prep, check and know” – and ask yourself: have you prepped your craft, checked your gear and do you know the weather forecast and rules for where you’re going? A handy app like MarineMate can help you stay up to date with tide times, boat ramp locations, VHF channels and local boating rules.

Always take the weather with you

Don’t forget to check the marine weather forecast before heading out. Download the MarineMate app or the Metservice marine app. Or head to the “marine” tab on the Metservice website for the latest forecast which includes wind, swell and tide info.

Don’t be a drunken sailor

Booze and boating do not mix. Things can change quickly on the water, so you need to stay alert and aware.

Stay in the know

There’s plenty of great courses that can help you get to grips with essential boating knowledge and tips to stay safe on the water. The Coastguard’s Day Skipper course is a great place to start. Getting in touch with your local boating club is also another great option.

No-one wants to end up as a statistic – remembering the simple tips above could be a life saver this summer.

For more information, head to saferboating.org.nz

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