Shocking Demonstration Reveals How Easily Boating Fun Turns Fatal

December 2023

As the boating season kicks off with warmer weather, it's crucial to revisit the importance of boating safety. In a striking demonstration, Seven Sharp reporter Lucas de Jong utilized unconventional tools—a leg of lamb and a watermelon—to underscore this vital message.

Maritime New Zealand estimates that two million people will engage in recreational boating this summer, crowding water bodies like Lake Karapiro. This influx increases the risk of accidents, with an average of 17 boaties not returning from their trips each year.

De Jong's experiment involved breaking basic boating rules to show their significance. Simple rules, like maintaining a five-knot speed near other vessels or swimmers, play a crucial role in ensuring everyone's safety. Disregarding these rules, even those that seem like mere etiquette, can significantly impact others' experiences and safety.

The experiment highlighted the importance of having an observer on board, especially when towing. The rapid ejection of a watermelon into the water, serving as a stand-in for a person, demonstrated the minimal reaction time available to spot someone who has fallen overboard. Life jackets were emphasized as essential for increasing visibility and safety.

The most shocking part of the demonstration involved a leg of lamb, simulating the human body's vulnerability to boat propellers. The lamb, swiftly torn apart by the propeller, served as a stark reminder of the potential for severe injury or death.

Maritime New Zealand urges all boaters to educate themselves before heading out. As Waikato Harbourmaster Chris Bredenbeck pointed out, "Education finishes at the boat ramp." Once on the water, it's too late for learning; preparedness and adherence to safety rules are paramount.

This season, let's prioritize safety to ensure enjoyable and safe boating experiences for everyone on the water.