Be safe and share the lake
Boaties hitting the water this Labour Weekend are being encouraged to be aware of others using the lake.
Harbourmaster Lyndon Cleaver said the start of the annual boating season is a good time to remind boaties that they share the lakes with other users, including swimmers.
Open water swimming is growing in popularity, particularly in Te Anau and Manapouri, where the Te Anau Open Water Swimmers group (TOWS) has 80 regular lake swimmers, many of whom brave the water year round.
Lyndon said skippers have a responsibility to keep a vigilant lookout and must obey the 5 knot rule within 200 metres of the shore and not exceed 5 knots within 50 metres of a swimmer or other person in the water.
“Navigational safety rules are designed to help keep everybody safe. Generally boating behaviour is pretty good, but with the increasing number of swimmers out at all times of the day and in all seasons, it’s important to be extra vigilant.”
TOWS spokesperson John Carter said it’s great to have so many people venturing into the local lakes, but having boats moving around at excessive speed does create unnecessary danger and the waves caused can be significant.
Lake swimmers in Te Anau are encouraged to use the passive recreation area (which is marked by signs in the southern part of the lake) and many swim with high-vis buoys attached to them to help them stand out.
John said there have been too many close calls and he would hate to see a tragedy, so he’s encouraging boaties to pay extra attention.
As we head into the boating season, boaties are encouraged to remind themselves of all the navigation safety rules:
- Lifejackets must be worn in a vessel six metres or under and must be carried in all vessels and be worn at times of heightened risk.
- Carry two forms of working and waterproof communication at all times.
- Obey the speed restrictions.
- Know the rules for towing, including having an observer aged 10 years or older on board for all towing activities.
Our maritime team will be out and about this summer season partnering with Maritime New Zealand, as part of the ‘No Excuses’ campaign, which is aimed at deterring those boaties who do not prioritise safety and choose to break the rules.