How to avoid common water safety mistakes

Summer is upon us, and with warmer, more settled weather on the way, most boaties are keen to get out on the water. If you’re looking forward to a fun summer filled with fishing, diving, or just cruising, now is a great time to brush up on the aspects of water safety that are commonly overlooked.

Life Jackets

In 2016, Maritime New Zealand reported that only 63% of the boaties they surveyed wore a life jacket at all times while on the water. They also found that 14% of respondents did not have enough life jackets on board for everyone on the boat, which is a legal requirement. All boats should carry a correctly-sized life jacket for every passenger.


In an emergency, getting help quickly can be the difference between safety and disaster. Boats should be equipped with two methods of communication that will work while wet, including VHF radios, beacons and flares. Don’t get stranded without a way of contacting the local authorities.


Just as you wouldn’t drink and drive, you should never drink and sail. Things out on the water can change quickly, and it’s important for everyone on your boat to be alert and capable of responding to an emergency. Never let an intoxicated person operate your boat.


Any local meteorologist will tell you that New Zealand’s weather is notoriously unpredictable. Always check the official marine forecast before setting out, and be prepared for the weather or the sea state to change quickly.

Skipper Responsibility

As a skipper, you’re responsible for the safety of everyone on your vessel. Make sure you are experienced enough to sail it safely in all conditions and that you know your boat’s capabilities and limits.

Don’t Forget Insurance

Having a good maritime insurance policy will protect you from the financial stress of repairing or replacing your boat and anything else you might damage with it.

Avoid unnecessary and expensive boating accidents. By following these guidelines, you’ll help to make sure that you, your family and your boat stay safe on the water this spring.

Photo by Pablo Garcia Saldaña