Northland boaties behaving

By Lindy Laird

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Whangarei Coastguard has been enjoying summer so far.

The volunteer service has had few emergencies or incidents out of the ordinary, apart from two men being swept 2km off Uretiti Beach in a child's toy dinghy, without life jackets or oars, last Sunday.

The recent spring tides have had little impact on boating behaviour or safety, Whangarei Coastguard president Dave Gray said. He has had no reports of boats running aground or being stranded on sandbars, left high and dry in the exceptionally low tides.

"Generally, it shouldn't be a problem apart from those people who don't have good charts of the local waters," Mr Gray said.

Higher and lower than usual tides were a reminder, especially for inexperienced boaties or people with a vessel new to local waters, to make sure they had those charts aboard, he said.

The Coastguard runs several courses to boost boat users' skills, with Mr Gray the Whangarei tutor for marine radio, day skippers and boat master courses.

Routine safety precautions include having life jackets on board for everyone, taking some means of communication and letting someone on shore know what the boating plan is, Mr Gray said.

Everyone should know the Whangarei Coastguard's VHF radio is channel 83 and a phone call to *500 from anywhere in New Zealand goes through to the Marine Rescue Centre in Auckland, which will raise a local response, he said.

As for those unusual tides, that has to do with the way the planets line up. A "proxigean" spring tide has nothing to do with the season of spring but occurs when the Earth, sun, and moon are in a line, the moon unusually close to the Earth and in the new moon phase, at most once every 1.5 years.

Ordinary spring tides - the name deriving from "springing forth" - occur twice each lunar phase. Neap tides, where the tide does not go in or out as far as usual, occur when the moon is half-full and the sun and moon are at right angles to each other.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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