Summer boating safety reminder

With the arrival of daylight savings and the feel of spring in the air, Bay of Plenty boaties are being reminded to stay safe on the water as they take advantage of improved weather and longer days.

Bay of Plenty’s Regional Harbour Master Peter Buell says now is the perfect time for people to check their boats and refamiliarise themselves with the local navigation safety bylaw in preparation for the summer months.

People are getting ready to hit the water this summer. Photo: File.

“If your boat and safety gear has been in hibernation over winter, please give it all a thorough check before heading out on the water,” says Peter.

“Too often we see instances where safety equipment, such as flares or lifejackets, have expired or deteriorated after being in storage.

“We want people to replace any old equipment before they leave the shore, and not get into trouble because they need to use it and it isn’t up to scratch.”

He says it’s also the perfect time for people to remind themselves of the region’s Navigation Safety Bylaw.

“This includes knowing where any exclusion zones are – such as the two nautical mile exclusion zone around Astrolabe Reef (Otaiti) where the area of sea is closed to vessels while work continues to take place around the wreck of the Rena.

Peter says: “If anyone is unsure of what the rules are or where the areas are that they should be avoiding, download the maps from our website at:”

Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard operations manager Simon Barker is also calling on people to pay particular attention to engines.

A number of the boats towed over recent weeks had just recently been serviced, and his first bit of advice about resuming summer boating is "don’t go too far out the first couple of times, just in case".

“We get that every year," says Simon. "People get their boats sorted, then they go out and something happens. We always have at least a couple of those, so don’t go too far until you are confident your engines are good.

“And the usual message is let people know where you are going.”

The other hardy annual is lifejackets. With boaties increasingly taking to inflatable jackets, there are extra tasks involved, with CO2 cylinders needing to be checked for corrosion and jackets checked for air tightness.

“They can service them themselves," says Simon, "but after every couple of years they should get them serviced by a qualified serviceman.

“You can check them over for corrosion, blow them up manually, and usually leave them up for 24 hours. They should stay up.

“It’s certainly worth people keeping on top of them because when you need them, that is the worst time to find out they are not working.”

Information available from the Coastguard includes a variety of weather forecast outlets. There are regular broadcast on VHF channel 83 and continuously on channel 22.

There are also links to the variety of weather forecasting sites on the Tauranga coastguard website in addition to the Vodafone-sponsored weather phone line: 07 218 1152.

“Certainly plan ahead," advises Simon. "This time of year the weather can change quite quickly, so be mindful of what the weather could be doing later on in the day if you go out in the morning.”

The coastguard boat TECT Rescue was training crew out near A beacon recently and was losing site of the harbour entrance in the heavy showers that blew through.

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