“If you can’t call for help, we can’t rescue you” – Safer Boating Week’s important new message

Wednesday, 11 October 2017



New Zealand’s national Safer Boating Week (October 13-20) starts Friday with an important new message for boaties: If you can’t call for help, we can’t rescue you.

“Have waterproof communications with you, and a marine VHF radio is usually best,” Safer Boating Forum Chair, Lindsay Sturt, said.

“Lifejackets and waterproof communications work together. A lifejacket helps you float and they have saved many lives, but if you can’t call for help, then we can’t rescue you.”

For seven years the Forum has successfully focused on lifejackets. As the number of recreational boaties has increased over that time, the percentages carrying and wearing lifejackets on board have also increased significantly, and there is strong awareness of lifejacket messages.

Eighty-six percent of boaties take lifejackets with them on their boats, and 76% now wear their lifejackets all or most of the time on the water.

But only 38% of boaties take two waterproof ways to call for help and the most common device they take is a cellphone.
“We can’t over-emphasise the importance of carrying waterproof communications,” Mr Sturt said.

“We want to maintain boaties’ good lifejacket behaviour and increase their use of communications, particularly VHF radio.”

Friday in Whangarei, Auckland, and Wellington boating organisations’ leaders are jumping into their harbours, while wearing lifejackets, making a splash, and drawing attention to Safer boating Week.

One of the jumpers in Wellington, Maritime NZ’s Director, Keith Manch, will also have a VHF radio attached to his lifejacket. In the water, he will be able to call for help.

More information about safer boating at www.saferboating.org.nz and the Safer Boating NZ Facebook. 

Background information

Prep, check, know
Safer Boating Week is traditionally the week before Labour Day weekend, which is when many boaties start getting back on the water.

It uses the slogan “Prep, Check, Know,” to encourage boaties to take simple steps to get their boats and themselves ready before they get back on the water.

Prep your boat      service the engine, check and change the fuel, check the battery, and
                            generally give the boat a good once-over
Check your gear    make sure your lifejackets are still fit for purpose and you have enough,
                          service any inflatable lifejackets, ensure you have two reliable forms of
                          communication equipment – usually, marine VHF radio is best, check the
                          marine weather forecast.
Know the rules       ensure you know the rules of the road on the water, and check your
                         local bylaws to make sure you understand what the requirements are in
                         our area.

Boating by the numbers

  • 1.45 million adults in New Zealand (about 40% of the adult population ) took part in recreational boating last summer, in
  • 1.26 million recreational boats: 464,000 kayaks, 421,000 power boats, 145,000 jet skis.

Some long-term statistics:

  • 90% of fatalities are men aged about 40 and older
  • 85% of fatalities occur in boats less than six metres long
  • For 75% of fatalities in boats less than six metres capsize is a major factor; 28% for vessels over six metres
  • 2/3 fatalities would likely be prevented if lifejackets were worn
  • For around 58% of fatalities, no effective communications is a major factor
  • 19-20 boaties, on average, die each year (based on last five years); though the rate might be declining with 13 deaths last year and 11 to date this year.

Coastguard VHF training
Knowing how to use a maritime VHF radio correctly and with confidence is vital in the event of an emergency

  • Unless transmitting in an emergency or distress situation, It is also a legal requirement that any person operating a maritime VHF radio has a Maritime VHF Operator Certificate
  • Coastguard Boating Education is the leading provider of VHF Radio Operator Certificate courses which can be completed in the classroom, at home or online
  • The course covers the general features and functions of a maritime VHF radio, correct distress and urgency procedures, trip reports, weather services, callsigns, EPIRBS (maritime distress beacons), and other search and rescue equipment

What’s on in your community?
There are lots of activities and photo opportunities around the country – details at www.saferboating.org.nz.

* The Safer Boating Forum
The Forum is made up of boating and water safety organisations, the marine industry, and central and local government agencies. It works to reduce boating injuries and fatalities, and improve boat safety behaviour.
Forum members are: ACC, Coastguard Boating Education, Coastguard New Zealand, Drowning Prevention Auckland, Jet boating NZ, Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers, local authorities, Maritime NZ, New Zealand Jet Sports Boating Association, New Zealand Marine Industry Association, New Zealand Police, New Zealand Search and Rescue Council, New Zealand Underwater Association, Surf Lifesaving New Zealand, Waka Ama NZ, Water Safety New Zealand, Whitewater New Zealand, and Yachting New Zealand.


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 October 2017 )