Bad boy boaties beware

By JULIA ILES

MARITIME NSW officers are hunting and punishing wayward boaties.

They have booked one driver for being alcohol impaired.

The officers, however, are impressed overall by the competence and courtesy of Clarence boaties and visitors who have taken to the waters during the summer holidays.

"We caught one man on the river who was over the limit after a random breath test and a couple of others were fined regarding missing safety gear and flares, but overall it was quite positive," Maritime NSW boating service senior officer John Rowe said.

"Some other issues we found were to do with unlicensed boats, but a lot of what we were doing was carrying out routine safety checks and breath testing."

Mr Rowe said boating had grown more popular on the Clarence through the years. Boaties this summer were enticed by conditions ideal for the sport.

"My advice for boat users is to carry the correct safety gear and just use your common sense," he said.

Gary Lawnton, a boat operator and owner of Seelands Ski Resort, has had to turn people away as his site is full.

"The river is a very popular destination, more so than in previous years, due to the weather and areas opened which were not previously available. There have been people here all week and everything has been very positive," he said.

"People have come down from Brisbane, Glen Innes and there are a lot of visitors from Surfers (Paradise)."

NSW Maritime North Coast regional manager Jim Green said the majority of boaters using the Valley's waterways were sensible.

"But there is a minority who either ignore or flout the rules for safe boating," he said.

He said personal watercraft, such as jet skis and waverunners, were of particular concern to officers.

"The issues are speeding in restricted zones, keeping a safe distance clear of swimmers and other boats and irregular riding such as doing doughnuts," Mr Green said.



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