Getting into a lifejacket while treading water is much harder than expected, Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff discovered.

Four Bay regional council staff tried this for themselves when they jumped into a pool fully clothed and tried to don one of the lifesaving devices yesterday.

The Navigation Safety Bylaw is being reviewed and the draft new version, which is open for submissions, includes a proposal that lifejackets must be worn at all times in vessels 6m or under unless the skipper advises otherwise.

As part of this review, four council staffers aged between 30 and 60 thought they would see for themselves just how challenging it was. Representing the age group that made up 90 per cent of recreational boating fatalities in New Zealand, they jumped into a 4.8m deep pool in their fishing gear, trod water for three minutes, swam 30m and then attempted to get into a lifejacket.


While all eventually managed to get a lifejacket on, none found it easy.

Participant Reece Irving said that while it was exhausting, it was achievable in those conditions.

"We were lucky that [yesterday's] pool was 25 degrees, the reality is in the ocean or lake you would be exhausted, freezing and wearing heavy clothes and it would be nearly impossible to get one of these on."

Adrian Heays said lifejackets looked completely different in the water and it was hard to know where to start.

"It was a really valuable exercise, because you quickly learn how tough it is to put one of these on while in the water and adjust the straps. It goes back to the important message to get it on or it's no good."

Submissions close at 5pm on Thursday.