From speeding jetskis to unnamed boats and vessels in the wrong place at the wrong time, the Tauranga Harbourmaster sees it all.
Local Focus spent a day out on the water, as part of "No Excuses" day, Maritime NZ's summer campaign to reinforce safety by issuing breaches regardless of the excuse.
"This year we've had a lot of people buying jetskis and new boat owners and they haven't had the education or experience," Kevin Arnold, Tauranga Harbour patrol officer said.
"They just go straight out on the water. A lot of jetskis out there haven't been registered yet, a lot of boats haven't got boat names yet, which is a breach."
Out on Tauranga Harbour, it wasn't long before we'd spotted our first alleged offender.
"We were on patrol near Panepane at the southern end of Matakana when we saw a white powerboat clearly towing a biscuit. From our observations it was in excess of 15 knots and 200m of the shoreline with three children on the biscuit and just him on the boat," Arnold said.
"We explained to him that we'd seen him exceeding 15 knots and also that he didn't have an observer. When you're towing, skiing or dragging a biscuit it's very important you have an observer on the boat in case anyone falls off.
"He admitted straight away he knew he should have had an observer. We also noticed he had no boat name and that's one of our bylaws for operating within Tauranga. We then explained to him about the speed limits and that you've got to be 200m offshore to exceed 5 knots."
A common offence is speeding within the 5-knot zone, less than 200m from shore.
"A lot of people, it's hard for them to determine what 200m is so it's educating people of what they can do and passing within 50m of another vessel they've got to slow down, and around moored boats," Arnold said.
The harbourmaster also has to make sure the shipping lanes are kept clear, especially when there's a container ship coming through.
"We had a young lad on a wind-powered craft and we noticed him heading out into the commercial shipping lane in front of the vessel. We had to act promptly and tell him to get out of the shipping lane because people don't realise those large ships move very quickly and the pilot has a blind spot that can reach for 500m so he's not aware of anyone being in front of him."
A common response from alleged offenders is to point out they aren't the only ones breaking the rules.
"We'd just dealt with the guy in the boat and as we finished with him he pointed out a jetski to us and said 'what about him?'" Arnold said. "Quite often at busy periods there'll be other people breaching in front of us but we can only deal with one person at a time. So we went over and the jetski had no registration number. It's a breach of bylaw but we give them 14 days to get the jetski numbers on there."
But there's one water safety violation that Arnold says beggars belief.
"Believe it or not we still get people going out without lifejackets. We've had a few of those, especially on paddleboards and when taking children out. If we find people without life jackets, they do get breached because it's very serious. We hand out lifejackets to them which are given to us through Burnsco, and they return to Burnsco once they get back to dry land," he said.
Maritime New Zealand says about 20 boaties a year lose their lives, with a lack of lifejackets and adequate communications on board, major contributors to the deaths.
And with more people than ever out on the water, the need to stick to the rules has never been so important.
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