Be safe, have fun on the water

With a cracker of a summer well under way, boaties are being reminded about the need to stay safe – particularly around Port Taranaki and its environs.

“There are maritime rules as well as general safety guidelines that everyone should be aware of, whether they are swimmers, boaties, waterskiers or kayakers,” says the Taranaki Regional Council Harbourmaster, Tony Parr.

“The most important things for all water users to remember are to stay safe in the water by being aware of what other people, boats and the like are doing, be considerate to other users, and to know the rules.”

The Taranaki Regional Council navigation and safety bylaws for the port and environs include speed restrictions in areas popular with swimmers. The speed zones are clearly set out on signpost maps at the boat ramp and on the beach at Ngamotu.

When in the water off Ngamotu Beach and around the port, keep in mind:

  • There is a safe area for swimmers and other recreational users off Ngamotu Beach. This zone, clearly marked on the signs in the area, has a 5 knot speed limit for all small craft. If you are creating a wake, you are probably exceeding 5 knots.
  • Further out from the beach but still within the breakwaters, there is an area reserved for power boats, jetskis, waterskiing and similar activities. There is no speed limit but safety is a requirement at all times.
  • There is a waterski/jetski access lane off Ngamotu Beach. Boats towing waterskiers can travel faster than 5 knots, but other small craft not towing waterskiers, including jetskis, are restricted to 5 knots.
  • Always be aware of big ships moving or manoeuvring within harbour limits, and keep clear of them. Don’t get closer than 300m from the front and 50m from the sides and rear of the moving ship.
  • When swimming, playing or diving into the water, avoid dangerous behaviour that may, for example, hinder navigation. Swimming near the boat ramps is prohibited
  • Always follow the advice and instructions of harbourmasters and harbour wardens.
  • Small craft and swimmers must keep out of the commercial port area – the boundary of this exclusion zone is indicated on signs at the boat ramp and on Ngamotu Beach.
  • Maritime NZ regulations apply in the port area as everywhere else, so know the rules regarding speed, lifejackets, collision avoidance and waterskiing.
  • Always be aware of what’s going on around you on the water, and check that you have the right safety equipment.
  • Remember that small craft (such as kayaks) and swimmers may be difficult to see in swells.
Harbour master Tony Parr.

Tony Parr.

“All water users need to be aware of other water users around them, be they boats or swimmers, especially when there is a swell that can hide swimmers or low-lying craft such as kayaks,” says Mr Parr, whose experience includes serving as an Admiral in the New Zealand Navy.

In addition, Maritime New Zealand reminds everyone that life jackets must be carried on board or worn at all times and communications such as EPIRBS, VHF radio, flares and cellphones are recommended for all boating activities.