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Published: 2012-01-03 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council’s harbourmasters are urging inland and coastal water users to take extra care following a number of incidents over the past two days.

The most recent resulted in three people being rescued by surf lifesavers after their boat flipped in huge swells at Manu Bay, off the region’s west coast, this morning.

A man believed to be aged in his 60s, his 45 year old son and a family friend, also in his 60s, were in a small vessel going out fishing. The experienced skipper decided the conditions were too rough and prepared to return to shore when the boat was knocked by a wave, with a second wave tipping them out. 

Fortunately all men on board were wearing their lifejackets at the time. The incident is now being investigated by the council’s navigation safety team.

Meanwhile, council harbourmasters are providing technical expertise and support to NZ Police detectives, who are leading the investigation into yesterday’s fatal incident on Lake Ohakuri. One man died and another was injured after two boats collided, about 4pm.

Navigation safety programme manager Nicole Botherway said the break in the weather over the past two days had resulted in large numbers of boaties flocking to the water.

“With the volume of vessels on the water, we are receiving reports of a number of near-misses, as well as incidents which could have ended tragically.

“The weather remains unpredictable and the swells in coastal waters especially are much bigger than normal.

“People are making the most of the improving weather, but the risk to water users grows when our lakes, rivers and coasts become congested – so, boaties need to be extra vigilant and aware of people in and on the water.

“People also need to ensure they know the rules before launching their vessels, check the weather and water conditions, and ensure every person on board has a lifejacket,” Mrs Botherway said.

She said harbourmasters were continuing to patrol the region’s inland and coastal waterways over the summer holiday season. Both formal warnings and infringements have been issued to water users in the past month for breaches of the Navigation Safety Bylaw.

“These breaches for such things as excessive speed and lack of lifejackets on board have serious implications to safety. It’s disheartening for the navigation safety team to see repeat offenders who are risking not only their own lives, but those of their family who they carry on board with no lifejackets. Combined with choppy conditions, it is a tragedy waiting to happen,” Mrs Botherway said.

Please visit www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/navigation-bylaw to read the Navigation Safety Bylaw 2009, or find out more about safe boating at www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/boatsafety.