Safety in check for marine craft

By Mike Barrington

Abrasive sand in the swimsuit or an overdose of sunshine are the worst problems most people expect to encounter at the seaside.

But what if beaches turn bad with crazies zooming through the waves on jetskis and biscuits, or heavy stand-up paddleboards battering swimmers in the surf?

Waipu Cove Surf Lifesaving Club president Richard Stolwerk says jetskis are "the worst by miles".

"If they obey the rules they're okay. Most are pretty good, but on the weekend of December 22-23 we had a jetski in the flagged area," he said.

Jetskis must be registered and their speed is restricted to 5 knots within 200m of the shore or of a vessel flying a dive flag, or within 50m of another vessel, craft or person. Riders must also wear life jackets.

Mangawhai Heads Surf Lifeguard Service captain Richard Kannemeyer said there were lanes within the Mangawhai harbour for jetskis and biscuits so they were not a problem on the beach.

He considered stand-up paddleboards to have the potential to cause trouble for surfers, who could be injured if one of the big paddleboards hit them in surf.

Northland Regional Council deputy harbourmaster Chidambaram Surendran said paddleboarders were advised to get boardriding lessons and to lash themselves to their boards in surf.

Whangarei Heads Surf Lifesaving Club captain Julian Pitman said any boats towing biscuits stayed out beyond the surf, jetskis were few and far between at the Heads, and the few stand-up paddleboards used there were not a problem.

Ruakaka Surf Lifesaving Patrol captain Ben McKernan also said biscuits were not towed close to the beach, jetskiers were "sensible this year" and paddleboarders worked with lifeguards and shifted outside flags if requested.

Rules covering marine craft are in the Navigation Safety Bylaws 2012 available free at Northland Regional Council offices or on the council website.

Feel free to send us an email to about what you find most annoying at the beach.

- Northern Advocate

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