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Published: 2013-01-04 00:00:00

Boaties are being reminded of the dangers of skippering a vessel while drunk following an incident on the Waikato River being investigated by Waikato Regional Council.

Council staff are conducting interviews with a number of people who escaped injury after a boat crashed into another vessel on the Waikato River at Horahora last Saturday, 29 December. 

The council is investigating reports the 25 year old skipper of one of the boats was heavily intoxicated at the time. 

“We are treating this matter very seriously and a thorough investigation is being carried out in conjunction with local police and Maritime New Zealand,” said the council’s navigation safety programme manager, Nicole Botherway. 

“It is extremely dangerous to attempt to navigate a vessel when you have been drinking alcohol. It impairs your reaction time and ability to cope if something goes wrong, and affects your survival time if you end up in the water. 

“You are not only risking your life, but the lives of those onboard as well as other water users. 

“It’s just fortunate that nobody was injured in last weekend’s incident, but the people onboard the second vessel were understandably very shaken,” Mrs Botherway said. 

In another incident under investigation by the council’s navigation safety team, a man has been detected riding a jet ski in the Tairua harbour with his 18 month old child, who was not wearing a lifejacket. 

“We want families to have fun on the water together. But there could have been fatal consequences if this man and child were thrown into the water. The rules are clear and there to save lives – when you are riding a jet ski, a correctly sized lifejacket must be worn.” 

Meanwhile, the council’s harbourmasters have been carrying out boat safety blitzes over summer. Mrs Botherway said the most common bylaw breaches detected so far relate to speed and lifejackets. 

“It is encouraging that, in the majority of cases, skippers are ensuring children and young people are wearing lifejackets. Yet on that same vessel the adults won’t be. It’s like making your kids wear their seatbelts in the car, and then failing to put yours on.” 

Waikato Regional Council has the following quick tips for water safety this summer:

  • Wear correctly-fitting lifejackets.
  • Carry a waterproof VHF radio.
  • Ensure cellphones are in drybags.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Turn lights on at night.
  • Know basic boating rules, such as keeping to the right.
  • Avoid alcohol. 

For more information on Waikato’s boating rules, visit