Maritime NZ Orders Skipper to Pay Almost $130,000

The skipper of a recreational boat that collided with a rocky outcrop in the Coromandel in New Zealand last January has been ordered by Maritime New Zealand to pay a total of almost $130,000 in reparations to three victims on board.

The skipper of a recreational boat that struck a rocky outcrop in the Coromandel area of New Zealand's North Island last January has been ordered by Maritime New Zealand to pay a total of almost $130,000 in reparations to three victims on board. All three passengers were injured, with two requiring medical treatment, but the skipper was unharmed.

Judge Kim Saunders told the Hamilton District Court that the skipper's behavior was "highly reckless" and convicted him of "operating a ship in a manner which caused unnecessary danger or risk to another person or property," Maritime New Zealand reported Jan. 26. Saunders fined him $6,750 in addition to the victims' reparations.

Speed and alcohol played a part in the crash. According to Maritime NZ, the skipper failed to identify the boat's position and did not respond to warnings from the crew about the boat's position, ultimately failing to slow down and driving straight into a rocky outcrop. "This crash was preventable. The skipper was drinking with his friends while out fishing on a boat at night," said Pelin Davison, Maritime NZ Central Regional compliance manager. "His poor judgment included motoring too fast toward shore in the dark, in an area of known hazards."

Speeding is the target of a No Excuses compliance campaign, which has Maritime NZ collaborating with regional councils to talk with skippers. Skippers face fines if they break the five-knot rule within 200 meters (about 656 feet) of shore and do not comply with lifejacket rules.

"We urge all skippers to be aware that they are responsible for the safety of everybody on board and for the safe operation of their vessel," Davison said.

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