Maritime NZ’s annual survey of recreational boaties, conducted by research firm Ipsos, showed that approximately 1.53 million Kiwis are involved in recreational boating and that 9 out of 10 consider safety important.

According to the research, key risk factors for recreational boaties are:

  • failure to wear lifejackets all the time;
  • inability to communicate for help when an accident happens;
  • failure to check the weather forecast before going out; and
  • alcohol use.

We know that by far the majority of boaties are very responsible when they are go on the water, but this survey shows there is no room for complacency and there is still work to be done to ensure all boaties keeps themselves safe. It’s important people think about safety before they take their boats out, because things can happen so quickly and then it is too late,

...the Chair of the Safer Boating Forum and Maritime NZ Deputy Director, Sharyn Forsyth, said.

Key findings 

  • 77% of boaties wear a life jacket all of the time or most of the time they are on the water (75% in 2018; 76% in 2017))
  • 79% reported having enough lifejackets on board for all passengers every time or most of the time (82% in 2018; 83% in 2017).
  • 56% reported having at least two ways of calling or signalling for help every time or most of the time they go on the water (58% in 2018; 53% in 2017)
  • 75% reported checking the weather every time or most of the time before going out (77% in 2018; 71% in 2017)
  • 78% avoid alcohol all of the time or most of the time (83% in 2018; 79% in 2017)
  • 54% of boaties are men, 45% are women
  • Kayaks are the most commonly used recreational vessels (32%); followed by powerboats less than 6 metres long (22%) and dinghies and inflatable craft (9%).

Boaties should always follow the boating safety code - wear life jackets, carry at least two waterproof ways of calling for help, check the marine weather, avoid alcohol, and be a responsible skipper,

...Ms Forsyth added.

The survey results make the Safer Boating Week messages of prep, check, know, even more pertinent, Maritime NZ noted.

This year, Maritime NZ has increased the grants it has made to organisations to provide face to face advice to groups on how to keep themselves safe.

Additionally, for the first time 18 harbourmasters are participating with Maritime Officers on the 'No Excuses Campaign' to ensure recreational boaties know there are consequences if they don’t follow the rules for carrying and wearing life jackets and obeying speed limits close to the sure and around diving flags.


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