Boatie behaviour 'disappointing'

By Katie Holland


The behaviour of boaties and jetskiers so far this summer has disappointed the Rotorua harbourmaster.

Harbourmaster Pererika Makiha said since patrols began on Boxing Day, about 40 warning notices and 15-20 infringement notices had been issued at the Rotorua lakes, which was high for this time of year.

Mr Makiha said one of the main problems was jetskiers still exceeding the speed limit, despite a recent jetski safety campaign by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. He said many drivers were also inexperienced at handling the powerful jetskis, which made for a "recipe for disaster" on busy lakes.

He said boaties had been reasonably well behaved apart from towing without an observer on board - a council bylaw. Mr Makiha said this rule was important as the skipper was unable to drive the vessel and look out for danger at the same time. He believed most people knew the rule but were ignoring it.

"We pull people up and they know they're in the wrong," he said.

Mr Makiha said his team had adopted a zero tolerance approach to the rule, issuing immediate $200 fines.

"The skipper can get done and the person being towed can also get done so we can hit them hard," he said.

He said jetskiers and boaties caught speeding were either fined or warned, depending on how serious the offence was.

"A lot of it is education, so there's been a lot of warning notices ... The response has been 99.9 per cent positive."

Mr Makiha said despite some close calls there had been no serious incidents on the Rotorua lakes over the holiday period and he was crossing his fingers it would stay that way for the rest of the summer. The coastguard will continue patrols seven days a week until at least Waitangi Day, supported by the 35 lake wardens.

Taupo harbourmaster Philip King said there had been a few minor incidents on Lake Taupo.

"We are generally pleased with people's behaviour but there's always a small percentage that are disappointing," he said.

He said the majority of the problems had come from boaties exceeding the 5 knot speed limit within close proximity to others.

About 20 infringement notices have been issued, which was about the same as last year. Mr King said one of the main messages this year had been encouraging people to use lifejackets and most people had been receptive.

"Compared to 10 years ago the awareness of safety is much higher."

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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