Thu, Dec 28, 2023 8:00 AM

Boat sinking sparks futile search as family escape


Paula Hulburt

A boat which sank in Picton Harbour sparked an unnecessary search operation after the accident was not reported to officials.

The master of the Interislander ferry saw debris in the water and contacted rescue crew.

Harbourmaster Captain Jake Oliver says the family who were onboard did not realise they had to report the incident to officials.

He is urging all recreational and commercial boaties to read the new Marlborough’s Navigation Bylaw 2023 which came into force on 20 December.

“Debris was spotted by the master of the Interisland ferry who readied rescue boats and delayed the ferry’s passage to assist,” says Captain Oliver.

“Lots of resources were pulled in only to find there was no need.

“We later discovered it only took six minutes for the boat to sink and there were six adults and children on board.

“Fortunately, no-one was hurt but it is concerning this incident was not reported.

“It’s a timely reminder to boaties such incidents are required to be reported by law.”

If you are in danger on the water, you should phone 111. If there has been a maritime incident but with no immediate danger to life, call Council.

Incidents are also reported through the Marlborough Cruise Guide app to keep the general boating public aware.

Encouraging safe speed is a particular focus for Harbour Patrol this summer, particularly in high-risk areas, some of which are marked with yellow 5 knot buoy markers.

“Collisions at sea can be catastrophic and wake from speeding boats can be dangerous too. Consider the safety of other water users and always operate at a safe speed.

It’s not just good sense, it’s also the law,” Captain Oliver says.

He reminds boaties it is also a requirement to carry enough lifejackets for everyone on board including dinghies and kayaks.

Paddleboarders should always wear lifejackets. Photo: Supplied.

This rule also applies to paddle boards, kiteboards, and windsurfers as well unless a wetsuit is worn.

“Harbours will be keeping a close look at this over the summer and our team will be out on the water almost every day over summer,” Captain Oliver says.

“We want people to have a safe and enjoyable time on the water so if we see unsafe activity on the water we will intervene.”

For more information on Marlborough’s Navigation Bylaw 2023 go to or visit the Marlborough Cruise Guide app.

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