Tim Walker on Boozing and Boating

Truth be told, I always thought it was illegal to operate a boat in New Zealand with excess blood alcohol.

Apparently not.

Apparently, it’s quite the contrary. It seems that in order to remain law abiding all you must do is abstain from alcohol while setting up for a day’s boating, while setting off for the day’s boating; then not until you have reached the setting out stage – where the boat is actually floating and surrounded by myriad other boating enthusiasts all in similar states of exuberant care-freedom – can you finally hit the booze.

Phew. What a bloody nightmare those few hours of preparation must be. Just be thankful that once you’ve hit the water you can get as legless, and drive your boat as recklessly as you like – providing you stay within International Maritime Laws, of course.

Let’s be fair though. How many casual boaties are actually familiar with the aforementioned laws? For instance, were you aware that International Maritime Law requires approaching vessels to pass on the right – thus portside to portside? Also, how many private motorboat owners are aware that while they must yield for sailboats, commercial fishing vessels have privilege over both kinds of craft?

The point here is that other than a few diligent boat owners, most skippers like to consider their time on the water recreation – a time where they are not so bound by rules; a time where they can let loose, crack a few beers, go a little bit nuts…

Which brings us back to the issue: boozing and boating. Although this practise is currently legal, it is greatly discouraged. That makes little difference to some weekend boaties. In their dickheaded heads: ‘If it’s not illegal, it must be legal, right?’

Here’s the thing, douchebags. The only reason that it is still legal to imbibe alcohol on a boat is because policing such a law would be nigh impossible.

Personally, boozing and boating is as stupid, as irresponsible; as downright reprehensible as drinking and driving. A drunken sailor is equally, if not more dangerous as a drunkard behind the wheel of a car.

I would sincerely hope that if driving with excess blood alcohol became legal, you would not suddenly deem it to be sensible.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by I R Seoul

Photography by Richard Pullar


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