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On patrol . . . Environment Canterbury navigation safety officer Gary Manch on the ECan jet ski, which is used during summer for patrolling waterways. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Claire Allison

The regional harbourmaster’s office is urging people to safely enjoy South Canterbury’s waterways.

Environment Canterbury navigation safety officer Gary Manch said this summer he would again be working with Maritime New Zealand and Coastguard New Zealand to remind boaties to properly prepare their boat, check their gear and know the rules.

“We will be out there educating people about the need to wear a properly fitted life jacket, the need to carry two forms of communication that work, and the need to keep speed down close to the shore or other people,” Mr Manch said.

It is a requirement for anyone out on the water in a vessel measuring 6m or less – including paddle boards – to wear a life jacket at all times.

Mr Manch said life jackets should be the right size for the person, worn correctly and checked regularly to ensure they inflated.

“Having two forms of communication is equally as important because if you do get in trouble you need to be able to tell someone who can help you,” Mr Manch said.

Figures released by Maritime New Zealand last week revealed only 38% of New Zealand’s boaties take two waterproof ways to call for help every time they go on the water, and the most common device they take is a cellphone.

Mr Manch cautioned that in Canterbury, cellphones and VHF radios do not work on every waterway.

“You need to make sure you have two forms of communication that will work in the area you are boating in. Options include cellphones in waterproof bags, VHF radios, whistles, flares or distress beacons.”

Safer Boating Forum chairman Lindsay Sturt said he could not over-emphasise the importance of carrying waterproof communications.

“Life jackets and waterproof communications work together. A life jacket helps you float and they have saved many lives, but if you can’t call for help, then we can’t rescue you,” Mr Sturt said.