Lookout! Issue 24, March 2012

Kia ora and welcome to the first issue of Lookout! for 2012 - my first as Director of Maritime New Zealand (MNZ).

This issue looks back at recreational and commercial accident and fatality statistics over the past 10 years. Many of these accidents and fatalities have been covered as stories in Lookout! and although we are doing better in some of our key safety areas, such as the carriage of lifejackets, the statistics show we’ve still got a long way to go.

MNZ Maritime Safety Inspector Alistair Thomson, whose work is focused on recreational boating, brings us this Lookout!’s guest editorial, with some observations about what’s been happening out on the water over summer and with our partners on the National Pleasure Boat Safety Forum.

The cover story, “Vessel steaming... crew sleeping”, shows what can go wrong when good watchkeeping practices aren’t followed. In this case, the fishing vessel was a total loss, but fortunately all those on board lived to tell the tale. The skipper, who wasn’t successfully woken for his turn on watch, had consumed alcohol before departing and failed the youth alcohol limit when breath-tested after the grounding.

Drinking behaviour on the water is also the subject of the safety feature, “Alcohol and water don’t mix”, and is followed by a review of some of the alcohol-related accidents from previous issues of Lookout! – several of which involve fatalities. “Avoid alcohol” is one of MNZ’s five key safety messages, but it’s an all-too-common feature of boating accidents and fatalities.

While alcohol wasn’t an issue in the story “No communications, no chance”, two of our other key safety factors were. Those on board weren’t wearing lifejackets when their boat suddenly capsized. They managed to recover some of the lifejackets they carried, but the man who died hadn’t been able to get his lifejacket done up correctly. The group also weren’t carrying adequate emergency communications that worked when wet, and couldn’t call for help.

Lifejackets and communications were also factors in another fatality, when two kayakers were returning from a day trip to a nearby island and got tipped out of their boats. Both struggled in the conditions, but only one made it back to shore to raise the alarm.

Accidents involving commercial tourist operations – one jet boating and one parasailing – also feature, with lessons to be learnt from each.

We’ve had some really positive feedback about Lookout! from readers, and also through last year’s customer satisfaction survey. We have shared that with the people who are involved in helping put Lookout! together. It’s encouraging to know the safety messages are getting through.

Please pass this Lookout! on to friends, family or crew, and encourage them to sign up to receive print or email copies.

Keith Manch, Director
Maritime New Zealand

Back to index

Cover of Issue 24
Return to the index for Lookout! Issue 24, March 2012
Return to index
Next: Guest editorial: Safety messages slowly sinking in - but there’s more work to be done