Safety a priority as busy summer on Canterbury waterways expected

With the summer boating season now underway, both new and experienced boaties are being reminded to follow safety protocols and check the conditions before heading out on the water.

Navigation safety officer Gary Manch said it’s important for people with all levels of experience to avoid being complacent about safety on the water. 

"We’re expecting a busy summer out on the water and an increase in new boaties."

COVID-19 creates surge in watercraft sales

Navigation safety officer Gary Manch on jet ski

Navigation safety officer Gary Manch wants boaties to avoid being complacent

Manch said due to COVID-19 and more Kiwis holidaying at home, retailers are already reporting a surge of recreational watercraft purchases this year.

"Now’s the time to check you have all the right safety equipment and are well prepared for the summer season. This applies to recreational boaties of all levels using all kinds of watercraft, including kayaks, jet skis and stand up paddleboards," he said. 

Did you know? Nearly one in every two Kiwis are regularly out on the water. Kayaks are the most widely-used vessel and stand up paddle boarding is becoming increasingly popular.

"Sadly, we see an average of 20 recreational boating fatalities every summer nationally. We want people to avoid becoming a tragic statistic by simply following basic safety rules," said Manch.

She’ll be right…until it’s not

Manch said that a laid back "she’ll be right" attitude had no place on our waterways and that accidents often occurred without warning.

"You’re putting your life at risk by being too relaxed about safety on the water. Every year we see fatalities and accidents that could be avoided by following basic protocols, like always wearing a life jacket.

"Some people still hold a belief that a life jacket only needs to be worn when conditions get rough, but that’s absurd. People still fall overboard and get into trouble in calm conditions, and you probably won’t have time to put your life jacket on once you’re in trouble. The fact is, about two thirds of fatalities could be prevented if life jackets were worn," he said. 

No excuses for Canterbury boaties

Our Harbourmaster’s Office is taking part in the fifth annual nationwide ‘No Excuses’ campaign this summer, which is led by Maritime New Zealand.

The campaign involves checking boaties on the water are complying with the boating safety code and Local Maritime Bylaws (PDF File, 6.47MB).

"As part of our own Summer Boating Safety campaign, and the nationwide 'No Excuses' campaign, we will be out on the water across the Canterbury region talking to boaties about the key safety measures they must be following.

"This is a chance for us to educate and advise boaties about what they need to be doing, and make sure they aren’t putting themselves and others at risk," said Manch.

The team will be on the water throughout the Canterbury region on at least five random days over the summer. 

Prep your boat, check your gear, know the rules

Our Harbourmaster’s Office is a member of the Safer Boating Forum, a formal network representing a cross-section of national and regional government agencies, local body groups, organisations and the marine industry, involved in promoting recreational boating safety in New Zealand.

The Forum has developed the boating safety code, which outlines key safety messages to help boaties avoid the common factors that contribute to deaths in recreational boating.

Video - Gary Manch talking about being safe on the water

Gary Manch - Always wear your life jacket

To avoid getting into trouble out on the water:

  • always wear your life jacket
  • check the marine weather forecast
  • take two waterproof ways to call for help
  • avoid alcohol
  • be a responsible skipper.

See more about recreational boating and safety in Canterbury.