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Published: 2014-01-24 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council is reminding boaties to take extra precautions when heading onto the water on the region’s west coast.

Whale BayThe warning comes ahead of the anniversary long weekend and in the wake of several serious incidents this month at Raglan which could have ended tragically. 

In two of the incidents subsequent inquiries by the council found there was little more the skippers could have done, but that the precautions taken had saved the lives of all those on board. 

“It just goes to show how even the most prudent boaties can get caught out, especially on the west coast which can be particularly unforgiving,” said the council’s navigation safety programme manager, Nicole Botherway. 

“We’re urging boaties heading out onto the water this weekend to have a heightened level of awareness around their equipment and abilities as a skipper. 

“Bars are not to be underestimated and the skipper is responsible for all people on board.  If you go out on the water unprepared then you are taking an unnecessary risk with the lives that are in your hands,” Mrs Botherway said. 

Before heading out boaties should follow five simple rules to help them stay safe:

  1. Life jackets: take them – wear them.
  2. Skipper responsibility: you are responsible for everyone on board.
  3. Carry communications: take at least two separate waterproof ways of communicating.
  4. Marine weather: check the forecast first.
  5. Avoid alcohol: sober skippers are responsible skippers. 

On New Year’s Day a boat was swamped by a rogue wave and sank while crossing the Raglan Bar. The skipper and his passenger, both wearing lifejackets, were thrown into the water. 

The skipper had about 10 years’ experience and had attended a number of courses, including a bar crossing training day run by the Raglan Coastguard with support from the regional council. 

A week later, on Tuesday 7 January, a powerboat sunk on rocks at Whale Bay after a rough Raglan bar crossing smashed the boat’s windscreen and damaged the canopy, resulting in the two passengers suffering cuts to their hands. 

Instead of attempting another bar crossing, the skipper wisely chose to come in to another bay, where he was caught out by some rocks (pictured). 

A third incident, which resulted in seven men in a 5.5 metre vessel being rescued in rough seas on Monday night, is being investigated by the regional council.