It’s a boat

Whangarei Report - - OPINION -

I had a run­about once. It was noisy, smelly and scared off all the fish ev­ery­where it went. So I sold it and in­vested in a kayak. Best de­ci­sion of my life. Oh the peace and quiet, my fit­ness lev­els went up and so did my catch rate.

The down­side though is hav­ing to deal with a small mi­nor­ity of power boat­ies who seem to have no clue as to the rules of the sea or just don’t care. I have had sev­eral bad ex­pe­ri­ences but the most re­cent has prompted me to write this.

I was re­turn­ing to the On­er­ahi boat ramp via the marked chan­nel and met a small run­about leav­ing it. He was pass­ing me on the wrong side and gen­er­at­ing a big wake. I could tell he was too close be­cause he should not have been able to hear what I said. I po­litely told him he was pass­ing me on the wrong side. His re­ply

was “but you’re not a fuck­ing boat!” Well I didn’t ex­pect that level of an­i­mos­ity. I knew he was wrong but could not de­bate the point as he had al­ready left in a cloud of ex­ple­tives and two-stroke.

One le­gal def­i­ni­tion of a ship can be found in the Mar­itime Trans­port Act 1994 and de­scribes it as ev­ery de­scrip­tion of boat or craft used in nav­i­ga­tion, whether or not it has any means of propul­sion. The Crimes Act 1961 has a sim­i­lar def­i­ni­tion. Legally then, a kayak is a ship but I think for the pur­poses my ar­gu­ment it is quite clearly ‘a boat’.

Be­cause kayak­ers are ev­ery­where th­ese days and sum­mer is now al­most here I hope shar­ing my ex­pe­ri­ence serves to re­mind ev­ery­one kayaks en­joy the same le­gal rights as any other craft on the water.

_ Bruce Fox Mata­rau

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