Water craft worries
Boating etiquette applies to jet ski users
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.
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.