Water craft wor­ries

Boat­ing eti­quette ap­plies to jet ski users

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By CHE BAKER

Lake Dun­stan har­bour­mas­ter Shayne Hitch­cock is urg­ing peo­ple us­ing jet skis to learn the rules of the water be­fore rid­ing them. Mr Hitch­cock, who has been a har­bour­mas­ter for 16 years, said that in the past 15 years the use of jet skis had grown dra­mat­i­cally. ‘‘Fif­teen years ago there were a dozen on the water, now there are hun­dreds,’’ Mr Hitch­cock said. Though jet skis could be lots of fun, rid­ers could get into trou­ble on the water a lot quicker, he said. Peo­ple who were in­ex­pe­ri­enced boat drivers would of­ten learn the ba­sic rules be­fore get­ting be­hind the wheel, but many peo­ple were pre­pared to use a jet ski with­out know­ing the rules. ‘‘The big­gest prob­lem is peo­ple not think­ing about things prop­erly,’’ Mr Hitch­cock said. Those caught break­ing lo­cal by­laws on Lake Dun­stan faced a $300 fine. But it was more about ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple than telling peo­ple off, Mr Hitch­cock said. Last week he saw one of the worst in­ci­dents he had seen on the water. An In­ver­cargill man was not fol­low­ing the 50-me­tre rule, where craft within 50m of each other must not ex­ceed 5 knots. He was given a warn­ing but a short time later he came within 8m of Mr Hitch­cock’s boat. Three boys who were be­ing towed by the man on an in­flat­able sea bis­cuit re­alised what was hap­pen­ing and jumped off be­fore the bis­cuit slammed into the side of the boat. ‘‘When some­thing bad hap­pens, it hap­pens really quick,’’ Mr Hitch­cock said. He urged any­one us­ing the lake or rivers to read a boat­ing guide and learn the rules.

Photo: CHE BAKER 627457540

No fizz: Lake Dun­stan har­bour­mas­ter Shayne Hitch­cock pulls in a stranded jet skier and pre­pares to tow him to shore af­ter his craft’s en­gine failed.

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