DOC skipper penalised after jet boat collides with kayaker

Source: 1News

A jet boat skipper has been ordered to pay $10,400 in reparation after their boat collided with a kayaker on the Whanganui River last year.

Kayak file image.

The kayaker was paddling downstream on the river on the morning of November 18, 2020 when they spotted the Wawahia jet boat, owned by the Department of Conservation, Maritime New Zealand said in a press release.

The kayaker had paddled to the side to provide the Wawahia with space. The vessel - with DOC ranger Wanihi Butler on board - was 20 metres away when it accelerated before colliding with the kayaker, who was tipped into the river.

The kayaker sustained injuries to their ribs, lungs and shoulder in the collision.

Butler was charged under the Maritime Transport Act 1994, s 65(1)(a) for breaches of the Maritime Rules causing unnecessary danger or risk.

However, the Whanganui District Court did not impose a fine due to his financial capacity.

Maritime NZ central compliance manager Michael-Paul Abbott said the case reinforces the importance of maintaining good visual lookout and adjusting speed accordingly.

“We know that weather can change at a moment’s notice, so it’s imperative that a skipper stays focused, adjusts their speed, and keeps a good visual watch in all weather conditions.”

Abbott said Butler failed to maintain a proper lookout and did not give way to the kayaker.