Recently jetskiers and jetski have made the news recently for the right and wrong reasons, most often or not unfortunately the wrong reasons. To help everyone stay saf, we have got all the rules and some suggestions in one place.
On-water rules for all boats
Any person must be over the age of 15 before they operate any PWC or other power vessel capable of exceeding a speed of 10 knots (9km/hr):
- You must not propel/navigate a PWC (including towing an object or person) exceeding 5 knots.
- Within 50 mts of any vessel, raft or person in water (this includes another PWC).
- Within 200 mts of the shore or any structure.
- Within 200 mts of any vessel flying an international driving flag.
A PWC must give way to:
- Other vessels under sail or oars or paddles.
- Other vessels crossing from the right.
- Other vessels when you over taking them.
- Vessels showing specific signals (eg fishing dredges etc)
Just like the road, harbours, channels, rivers or narrow stretches of water have their own set of rules:
- Remember to always keep to the starboard (right side) side of the channel.
- Don’t be a sitting duck. You must not anchor or block a channel or thoroughfare.
- All harbours and the approaches to harbours are subject to the “500 ton rule’. Small crafts must keep out of the way of ships over 500 tons (usually about 50 metres in length.
- Some harbours state the minimum distance from ships over 500 tons is 500 metres ahead and 100 metres at the side or stern. Maritime NZ recommends these distances from ships in all areas.
- Wear a PDF (Personal Flotation Device) / Life Jacket.
- Some areas of New Zealand require personal watercrafts to be registered, which is also useful to identify them if stolen.
- Someone under the age of 15 can operate a personal watercraft if they are being actively supervised by an adult, actively means within immediate reach of the crafts controls, eg: on the back with the lanyard round their wrist.
- Know your responsibilities and improve your knowledge by attending a Coastguard Boating Education course or failing that read the safety material that is available.
- Learn how to read weather and sea conditions and understand the capabilities of your craft relative to those conditions.
- Plan your trip including checking fuel and oil levels and tell others of your plans and approximate return times.
- Be aware of PWC exclusion zones and/or local water bylaws before hitting the water.
- Ride within your capabilities or the capabilities of your passengers. Never put yourself or your passengers in a situation that is uncontrollable. If you are riding with inexperienced passengers, brief them on safe operational and what to expect.
- Carry appropriate safety equipment such as a waterproof hand held VHF radio, cell phone (in a waterproof storage bag), tow rope and if you are heading further out maybe even consider a Emergency PLB (Personal Locator Beacon).
- Maintain your craft by keeping it regularly serviced.
- Keep a careful lookout. Remember that swimmer and other water users maybe obscured behind swells, waves, wakes or other vessels.
- Before turning, check over your shoulder for other craft, never turn blind.
- Alcohol & drug awareness – Do not under any circumstances operate your craft if you have been drink alcohol and/or have taken drugs.
- Read up on the signs posted around ramp areas and be aware of lights and signals governing the water area you are riding on.