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Published: 2008-04-14 00:00:00

Several close calls in the Waikato region this summer have prompted an Environment Waikato plea for boaties to take care when crossing bars.

Evaluating a long and busy summer on the water, Environment Waikato navigation safety manger David Pearks said bar crossings had been a particular problem this season.

“In one, very serious incident, a runabout capsized on the Whangapoua Bar, putting the experienced skipper and his two crew members in extreme danger,” he said.

“The skipper became entangled in the anchor and the boat’s weight was pulling against his body. It took a massive effort for the two younger men to free him and they had to support him in the surf for 30-40 minutes because he was so exhausted. They probably saved his life and it was just lucky another boat saw them and picked them up.”

Mr Pearks said bars were particularly dangerous because unusually steep seas could easily capsize boats. However careful preparation could minimise the risks.

  • Check the latest marine forecast and tides before you go out.
  • Tell the Coastguard, harbourmaster or a responsible person where you’re going.
  • Carry communications equipment, such as a cellular phone in a waterproof bag.
  • Wear lifejackets.
  • Secure gear and make sure your boat is stable.
  • Make sure your crew is awake and alert.

More information about bar crossings is available on Maritime New Zealand’s website,