Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Shining light on boating dangers this Easter

If you are planning a boat trip or a visit to the bach in the Marlborough Sounds this Easter holiday weekend, Marlborough District Council is reminding you to check you have the correct navigation lights on board.

Council’s Harbours team says with daylight saving at an end and the sun setting much earlier, it’s timely to remind people of the requirements for boating in the Sounds at night.

Harbour Protection Officer, Jason Moore said sunset in Picton on Good Friday is at 5.54pm, so if people are finishing work and heading away, they need to make sure their vessels are correctly lit.

“Your boat must display lights from sunset to sunrise and when it is raining. Not using lights is extremely dangerous,” Mr Moore said.

“Navigation lights ensure you can see and be seen by other vessels. They also enable skippers to make safe decisions to avoid collision,” he said. “The rules set different requirements for navigation lights depending on the length of the vessel concerned so it’s important boat owners ensure they comply.

“Unfortunately, a lot of boaties we observe in the Sounds only have port and starboard lights with no stern light or all-round white light. This means they can’t be seen from behind when faster boats are overtaking them,” he said.

Some of the specific requirements from Part 22 of the Maritime Rules are as follows:

  • Powerboats over 12m need to display a masthead light, sidelights, and stern light;
  • Powerboats under 12m may show an all-round white light instead of a masthead light and a stern light but must still show sidelights;
  • Sailing vessels have specific lighting requirements but a sailing vessel using engines must show the lights for a power-driven vessel of its size.

For each vessel type the rules also prescribe where the lights must be located on board, and requirements in relation to visibility and brightness.

“The Harbours team is happy to provide guidance and advice to boaties on the configuration of navigational lights that they need,” says Harbourmaster, Luke Grogan.

“No matter how big or small your boat, the skipper is always responsible for the safety of the vessel and everyone on board. You need to know the rules and be aware of the risks because if something goes wrong, you can be prosecuted.”

For more information on tides and navigation in the Marlborough Sounds click here.

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