More spot checks for boaties as nationwide safety campaign ramps up

Spot checks on boaties' will be more common this summer, as a nationwide safety campaign ramps up.

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Maritime authorities will be looking for people who aren’t playing safe on the water. Source: 1 NEWS

The No Excuses campaign, run by harbourmasters and Maritime NZ, began in 2016 in just eight locations.

This year, 18 harbourmasters are participating, with Buller, Gisborne, Taranaki and the Manawatu involved for the first time.

Each will carry out the campaign on five random days throughout the season.

Auckland harbourmaster skipper Jay Thompson-Milne said, “you don’t know when an accident is going to happen.”

Maritime officer Sean Patterson told 1 NEWS they will be making sure people are following basic rules around speed and having life jackets on board.

“Sadly we know that two thirds of boating fatalities are due to people not wearing life jackets”, said Mr Patterson.

“We’ve got to get the wearing numbers up. It’s too late if you haven’t got it on."

Boats found without life jackets on board are escorted back to shore and given an infringement.

Fines for not complying with safety rules can be worth $300.

“Of course there’s the old infringement book, which we’re trying to keep in the background," Mr Patterson said.

He said this campaign is "more about trying to catch people doing stuff right”.

It will see them creating conversations with those on the water about safety tips, while also handing out some freebies.

A five-year-old out with his family in Auckland this weekend got a new life jacket, Mr Patterson explaining the one he had wasn’t the best fit.

Another boatie was handed a waterproof phone pouch.

When asked about the importance of having life jackets, the man said, “It’s a simple thing to do, sometimes when it’s not there, when you need it is when you’re sorry.”

Mr Patterson said, “I think the attitude’s improving greatly, we’ve seen over the campaign running for four years, now, some really high levels of wearing attitudes.”

Maritime NZ Deputy Director Sharyn Forsyth said, “Safe boaties follow the rules each and every time they go on the water. There are no excuses for breaking the rules and causing risk to yourself and others.”