This year's message is: "Prep, check, know the message", which means:

  1. Prep your boat: Service the engine, check and change the fuel, check the battery, and generally give the boat a good once-over.
  2. Check your gear: Make sure your lifejackets are still fit for purpose and you have enough, service any inflatable lifejackets, ensure you have two reliable forms of communication equipment – usually, marine VHF radio is best, check the marine weather forecast.
  3. Know the rules: Ensure you know the rules of the road on the water, and check your local bylaws to make sure you understand what the requirements are in your area.

The Safer Boating Forum’s Chair and Maritime NZ’s Deputy Director of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, Sharyn Forsyth, stated that it is unusual to report such a high number of boating deaths during winter, as usually most recreational boating happens during the warmer summer months.

Sharyn Forsyth added

Tragically, last year’s very low death rate has not been repeated. We want to make sure the upcoming summer does not follow this winter’s trend.

She further noted that boaties should always be in line with the boating safe code, which ensures their maximum safety, advising mariners to wear life jackets, carry at least two waterproof ways of calling for help, check the marine weather, avoid alcohol, and take skipper responsibility.

Ms Forsyth concluded that with the first Water Safety Month this year, there was growing collaboration between boating and water safety organisations to reduce fatalities and educate New Zealanders to keep themselves safe in, on and around the water.

Concluding, in 2018 New Zealand changed its recreational boat rules following a deadly yacht accident, and made 28 recommendations under seven headings:

  • certification of pleasure craft departing on international ocean voyages
  • autopilot failure
  • preventer failure (a preventer is a device used on a sailing vessel to help prevent uncontrolled swinging of a boom)
  • mainsheet traveler failure (a mainsheet traveler is used to help keep the boom in the right position)
  • person overboard
  • emergency communication
  • command and control.