Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Skipper fined after boat capsizes

A skipper whose boat capsized while crossing the Tairua Bar, landing him and two others in the water, has been fined $400 for not making sure lifejackets were worn.

A full-scale rescue was launched on Easter Monday involving the Coastguard, Westpac rescue helicopter, lifeguards and police to bring the three men to shore and tow the boat back in.

A month-long investigation found the skipper was at fault, said the Waikato Regional Council maritime services team leader, Richard Barnett.

The council fined the man $200 for failing to wear a lifejacket and another $200 for failing to ensure his crew were wearing lifejackets.

It also gave him a formal written warning for operating a vessel in a manner that caused unnecessary danger or risk. The council decided against a court prosecution because no one was injured and the offence was the skipper's first.

Photos supplied to the Herald by an onlooker showed the boat capsizing as the skipper tried to turn it while crossing the bar after surviving a large wave front on.

These same photos assisted the council in working out wave patterns and identifying other boats on the bar that day.

Mr Barnett said crossing a bar was an extremely dangerous manoeuvre and more boaties came to risk doing this than doing any other boating-related activity. The council had created a series of bar-crossing videos - one focused specifically on the Tairua Bar - to help educate boaties.

"Boaties also need to make wise decisions about whether it is safe to go on the water in the first place and never try to turn mid-crossing."

The regional council has imposed about 50 fines for breaches of boating-related bylaws in the past year, the majority of them for failure to wear lifejackets.

- NZ Herald

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