Now’s the perfect time to get prepared to head out on the water

29 September 2023

When planning a trip on the water, safety starts at home, and now is the perfect time to make your checks before a busy few months on the water.

Whether you are planning on heading off shore on a power boat, or looking to get on a paddle board or a kayak. There are several checks you need to make to ensure you and others on your vessel are safe. An easy saying to remember is prepare your vessel, check your gear and know the rules before heading out.

Long range forecasts for spring and summer show conditions are likely to be hot up and down the country.

This is likely to see a significant number of people out on the water.

"That is why it is important to make sure you have made the right checks and have the equipment now, instead of realising you don’t have what you need right before you head out," Maritime NZ’s Principal Advisor Recreational Craft, Matt Wood says.

He is recommending boat users undertake a full clean of their vessel, service their engines annually and check other safety equipment they have on-board.

The first step is to check your lifejackets, make sure there is no damage and they are still fit for purpose.

"Old lifejackets can fail in an emergency.

"Most manufacturers recommend lifejackets are replaced every 10 years, or if there is noticeable damage, while inflatable life jackets should be serviced every year," he says.

Checking expiry dates on key pieces of equipment is also important.

"Once purchased a lot of people forget about items such as beacons and fire extinguishers after purchasing and then putting them on their vessels.

"However, you want them to be fully functional and working should something go wrong," Matt Wood says.

"Checking all batteries are fully charged, radios, ropes and flares will ensure you can hit the water with peace of mind next time you head out.

"Salty water can speed up the degradation process of items, causing the lifespans to shorten if they are often exposed," he says.

Spending a couple of hours doing these checks now will pay off when you do go out again.

"With extra daylight saving having just occurred there are some extra hours of light now available, so the time is right to make the checks on your vessel," Matt Wood says.

Maritime NZ also recommends you make sure you have the necessary resources on your vessel, including (among other things):

  • Boat hook and throwing line
  • Warm clothing
  • First aid kit
  • Navigation equipment
  • Bailing system
  • Rope
  • Waterproof torch
  • Alternative power (a spare outboard, oars or paddles).
  • Spare fuel
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