Easter holiday-makers warned off Marlborough Sounds

Some people are living on their vessel during lockdown but recreational boating is strictly prohibited. File photo.

Easter traditionally sees the Marlborough Sounds full to bursting with holiday makers enjoying the area before the long winter months.

While some international travellers have holed up in the Sounds, during the lockdown, the waterways are reserved for essential travel only.

And boaties have been given the thumbs up for behaving well while Covid-19 keeps them mainly moored-up.

Marlborough harbour master Luke Grogan says while there is some nervousness around people wanting to visit their bach during Easter, most people have responded positively.

“Everyone is hopeful people will continue in the main doing what they have been doing, that is staying home,” he says.

Luke says Port Marlborough’s message is clear, no recreational boating and if you don’t need to travel, don’t.

“We are going to have a presence on the water to support the efforts of all the people who are complying,” he says.

Alongside police, Port Marlborough staff have been running regular patrols in the Marlborough and Pelorus Sounds.

“There might have been half a dozen boats [not complying] early on during the lockdown.

“In the last few patrols, that number has dropped.”

He says Sounds residents with no road access, or those spending the lockdown on their vessel, still need to eat and they’re allowed to travel to town to stock up their pantries.

Public with concerns about boats travelling within the Sounds are encouraged to go to the police directly.

“Our powers are to do with navigation safety.

“The power with decisions around people breaking lockdown rest with the police,” Luke says.

He says those living in the sounds, or on their vessel should be staying in one place.

“They shouldn’t be going for an afternoon sail.

“They should be on a mooring, or in some instance at anchor, and stay there for the duration.

Luke says he has staff monitoring that space and if there were any red flags they would have notified the police.

He says most of the community has been complying in a bid to stop the virus.

“It’s a case of working together,” he says.

“If people have concerns about their boats, their security or safety on the moorings, genuine concerns, call the harbour office and we could organise and visit to the vessel on their behalf.

Luke says people in Marlborough have a high level of seamanship and know how important it is to make sure their vessels are safe.

“Don’t risk it and break the rules. Talk to us in the first instance.”

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