Maritime safety agencies and police will be out in force at launching ramps and jetties over Labour weekend to explain Auckland Council's new rules on wearing life jackets in small boats.
"All ramps - big and small - will have signs about the new bylaw by next weekend and we will focus on education for the next two years," said council bylaws and regulatory chairman Calum Penrose.
"It's at the skipper's discretion and we will tap them on the shoulder and say, 'Okay guys, this is new bylaw'."
From October 25, everyone on boats 6m or smaller must wear a life jacket unless the skipper says it's safe to remove it.
All vessels, however, must carry suitable life jackets for every person on board.
Auckland Council is also getting the message out to schools through WaterSafe Auckland and boating clubs.
Mr Penrose said the council could not enforce its Navigation Safety Bylaw by issuing infringement fines until it was in the Maritime Transport Act.
Waitemata police, who patrol the Hauraki Gulf, say skippers will be"absolutely accountable" for decisions made where they deem it safe for their crew and passengers to not wear life jackets.
"If skippers make this conscious decision and something goes wrong, police will look very closely at holding the skipper personally accountable by investigating and laying criminal charges where appropriate," a spokesman said.
The harbourmaster and police will also check on compliance with the bylaw's other new rules.
One makes it compulsory for a vessel to carry a means of communicating with the shore, such as mobile phone, VHF radio, flare or beacon.
The bylaw also makes it an offence for the person in charge of a vessel to be intoxicated by alcohol or drugs.
If this is suspected, police will escort the vessel back to shore.
WaterSafe Auckland said wearing life jackets was its key theme for school and community events.
For Safer Boating Week it was running a #wearit4work photo competition to get people wearing life jackets in a non-marine environment.
Coastguard and life jacket supplier Hutchwilco will have a van full of new flotation aids at boat ramps next month.
People will be able to trade in their old life jackets and get a price reduction, and the old jacket, if still safe, will be donated to groups.
Two manufacturers' websites yesterday advertised basic life jackets from $26 and $39.