The number of ‘close calls’ in boats in the Queenstown Lakes District over the last two weeks is real cause for concern QLDC harbourmaster Marty Black said.
“With the warmer weather, inevitably people take to the water. Unfortunately this year it appears some have left their common sense at home,” Mr Black said.
At least two incidents had involved near collisions between power boats and unlit kayaks.
“Every year we seem to need to remind kayakers that after dark they cannot be seen if they are not carrying any form of lighting, it’s a terrible accident waiting to happen,’ he said.
Another incident this week involved a lone kayaker who had set out in the dark to paddle to an island for the night.
“This person had no life jacket and was wearing a large pack with camping gear. Fortunately he was so top heavy he rolled 250 metres from the shore and was able to make it back to land. I consider him one lucky individual,” Mr Black said.
He also issued a reminder to accommodation operators who supplied kayaks to guests.
“To hand some of these inexperienced people a paddle and a kayak with no rules, no briefing and no lifejacket is like handing someone a recipe for disaster,’ Mr Black said.
He recommended guests should always stay well within daylight hours, indicate their intentions, wear a lifejacket and travel in pairs.
“Otherwise I’m afraid some of the incidents we have seen in the last few days have the potential to escalate into something far more serious. We have beautiful lakes and waterways in our district and amazing recreational amenity but it must be respected at all times,’ Mr Black said.