A boatie’s dream summer is full of swimming, sunshine, fishing, great food and adventure – as well as relaxation.

After many weeks locked away, like most Aucklanders we were ready to escape, so by December 27, 2021, we were on our way to Great Barrier Island.

We had plans to go to the Mercury Islands, but the wind had other ideas for us. Two weeks away from the city was the main objective though, as the frustration of being locked away from the sea for so long had been hard to bear at times.

Boating holidays are a great way to meet up with old friends and make new ones. This year we packed our Genesis ProFish with all the essentials, including the dog, and did just that. It was great to see our friends and family enjoying themselves and we met some fantastic Barrier locals and visitors along the way too.

We saw the very best of boating behaviour where people showed total respect for one another, but at times we experienced the very worst of boating behaviour too.

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The worst boating behaviour is ignorance – ignorance of the rules, of etiquette and of the rights of other boats/people.

With the post-Covid boom in boat purchases, many of the new boaties on the water may not be aware, or choose not to be aware, of how their behaviour and the way they operate their boats affects others.

We were subject to skippers entering bays at a high speed and dropping anchor with no regard to the proximity of other boats or how far they might swing in different conditions. Waking up a skipper late at night to advise them their boat is about to collide with ours is no fun for anyone.

Another time, the towering wake of a large vessel screaming past with people sitting on the bow enjoying the ride left us holding on tight and shaking our heads in disbelief.

These are just a couple of examples of poor boating etiquette, but not the worst we saw this summer cruise. The worst was a blatant disregard for rules and safety.

The dog and us in our happy places.

The Catherine Bay entrance is a popular place for diving and fishing and this summer was no exception. With a 35ft launch anchored close to the rocks and displaying its diving flag, we decided to drift-fish approximately 75m away from them, constantly monitoring our distance but confident we were all good with our sea anchor out. We could see two decent-sized boats coming our way and thought that, surely, they would not go between us… Surely, they knew to stay a minimum of 50m away from boats displaying a dive flag? And they must know to reduce speed to less than five knots when passing that close to us, right?

But they clearly didn’t! The wake they left was very uncomfortable for us, but it was shocking to see how close they came to the dive boat.

Another instance: when entering Man of War Passage after an average day of fishing at approximately 6pm one afternoon, we were subjected to a newish 72ft motoryacht coming in from our starboard side, cutting us off from the entrance. It left us rocking and rolling while scrambling to get out of its way, hanging on to ride out the wake and just managing to save the dog falling over the side. The saying “all the gear, but no idea” came to mind!

A glorious sunset from the boat.

These examples are just a few of the incidents that left us shaking our heads and wondering how on earth boat owners think this is okay. Having a boat brings a responsibility to consider others and adhere to the rules. And the larger and more powerful the boat, the greater the impact it has on others.

The next time you want to moor in a bay, consider how far other boats will swing and what impact your anchoring will have on their enjoyment – remember, they were there first.

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The next time you are in a hurry to get somewhere, or just feel like burning fuel at a great rate, consider the smaller boats and the impact your wake will have on them. Other boaties have just as much right to enjoy the marine environment as you do.

Most importantly, LEARN THE RULES! Rules are not there to limit your enjoyment but to save lives. Owning an expensive, powerful boat does not give anyone the right to disregard the rules and put others at risk.

Maybe Australia has got it right in ensuring all skippers have a licence before they can operate a boat. You are not allowed to drive a car without one. BNZ