In the water, be visible, on the water be vigilant says harbourmaster
Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Harbourmaster, Grant Nalder, is urging harbour users to take care on and in the water following an incident between a rowing skiff and a swimmer that could have ended in tragedy and a near drowning at Paremata.
“As the weather heats up more and more people are swimming, diving and boating on our harbours and off our coasts, creating situations where accidents will become increasingly likely unless everyone takes care,” says Grant.
The first incident occurred around 7am on Wednesday off Point Jerningham, in Wellington Harbour, when a rowing skiff collided with distance swimmer causing injury to the swimmer’s head.
“Fortunately, it wasn’t serious and the swimmer was able to get to shore, but the incident highlights the importance of vigilance on the water, however all involved were shaken up by the collision and the result could easily have been very different. Both the swimmer and rowers were keeping an eye out but it’s really hard to see people in the water.
“Our plea is for swimmers and divers to make themselves visible in the water, this could be with a brightly coloured swim cap or tow bag and for divers by ensuring they have a large dive flag well displayed. Vessels of all types need to keep a good lookout for other water users, big and small, on or in the water.”
Grant Nalder added that with several ocean swim events over summer there are greater numbers of swimmers than usual around the harbour training in the run up to events, particularly in Wellington Harbour, and participating.
In another incident on Wednesday a security guard contracted to Greater Wellington from Recon Security at Paremata Bridge was involved in successfully reviving a man after a near drowning.
In mid-afternoon a swimmer found the unconscious man floating under the road bridge and brought him to shore where the guard, Falelua Leitupo, gave one chest compression, checked for breathing and put the man in the recovery positon. The regained consciousness and Falelau called for an ambulance. When Greater Wellington staff arrived the ambulance and fire engine were on site and the patient was inside the ambulance.
Greater Wellington contracts the security guard over summer to ensure a safe separation between swimmers and boaties in the busy harbour.
“I think Falelau did a great job managing what was a stressful and potentially tragic situation in a professional and calm manner. Yesterday was his first day working at the boat ramp – what a way to start. The swimmer has a lot to be thankful for, too.
“We don’t have details of why the swimmer lost consciousness, but Paremata is crowded and potentially risky for swimmers in particular. Our advice is - if you are in the water make sure you are visible and when you are on the water always stay vigilant.”