Full days for wa­ter pa­trol

No life­jack­ets and boat­ies’ speed keep ma­rine po­lice busy

The Northern Advocate - - Local News - Pe­ter de Graaf

Is­su­ing warn­ings to boat­ies fail­ing to wear life­jack­ets or trav­el­ling too fast near dive flags kept mar­itime po­lice busy dur­ing a two-week de­ploy­ment to the Bay of Is­lands.

A po­lice rigid-hulled in­flat­able boat (RHIB) usu­ally based in Auck­land spent 15 days on the wa­ter be­tween De­cem­ber 29 and Jan­uary 13, crewed by skip­pers from Auck­land po­lice and a ros­ter of four spe­cially-trained North­land cops.

The most se­ri­ous in­ci­dents were an on-wa­ter po­lice chase, com­plete with lights and sirens, sparked by a cata­ma­ran speed­ing past dive flags at 40 knots (74km/h) on Jan­uary 5. The of­fend­ing cata­ma­ran was pow­ered by four 300hp out­boards so it took the length of the Bay for the po­lice to catch up.

In an­other in­ci­dent the po­lice boat had to put it­self in the path of an­other ves­sel head­ing straight for a diver who had emerged a long way from his dive flag.

Trag­i­cally, the po­lice boat also helped in the search for a 44-year-old Kaikohe diver who died near Mo­turoa Is­land on Jan­uary 4, then trans­ported mem­bers of the Na­tional Dive Squad to the site that evening to re­cover his body.

Coastal mas­ter Pe­ter Comer, of the Auck­land po­lice Mar­itime Unit, said the speed­ing cata­ma­ran had passed be­tween two dive flags 300m apart, or about 150m from each.

North­land by­laws pro­hibit speeds of more than 5 knots (9km/h) within 200m of a dive flag or the shore and 50m from any swim­mer.

The speed­ing skip­per, from Auck­land, claimed he thought the re­quired dis­tance was 100m and was in a hurry be­cause he was “late for wake­board­ing”.

In the po­lice boat’s last eight days on the wa­ter Comer said he had spo­ken to peo­ple on 60 ves­sels, of whom 46 needed ed­u­ca­tion around the rules — mostly for wear­ing life­jack­ets, speed or be­hav­iour around dive flags.

“As my fo­cus was on safety and ed­u­ca­tion rather than is­su­ing tick­ets, I only gave out warn­ings.

“If you look at the com­pli­ance rate 46 out of 60 it doesn’t look great but it needs to be put into per­spec­tive. There were hun­dreds of ves­sels out there, I just iden­ti­fied those who needed ed­u­ca­tion,” he said.

A Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion ranger was on board each day to make sure ma­rine mam­mal reg­u­la­tions were be­ing ob­served. Among other things the rules pro­hibit ves­sels speed­ing through pods of dol­phins and limit the num­ber of boats in­ter­act­ing with a pod at any time.

The po­lice boat also pa­trolled moor­ings and DoC camp­grounds on Urupuka­puka Is­land.

iYou can read more about a day in the Bay with mar­itime po­lice in this Satur­day’s 48 Hours.

Photo / Pe­ter de Graaf

The Maun­der and Peddy fam­i­lies from Whangarei get a goodie bag from the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion’s Bay of Is­lands area man­ager Rolien El­liot. A DoC ranger ac­com­pa­nied the po­lice boat ev­ery day it was out on the Bay.

Photo / Im­ran Ali

Adam Tipene is charged with stab­bing a po­lice dog.

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