Drone to deliver safe boating messages in the Marlborough Sounds


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Marlborough is at Orange level of the Covid-19 Protection Framework (the traffic light system).

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Drone to deliver safe boating messages in the Marlborough Sounds

Move over Air New Zealand, there is a new safety message in the skies – this time over the waters of the Marlborough Sounds.

In what is believed to be a New Zealand-first, this Saturday morning Marlborough’s Harbourmaster will trial delivering safe boating messages by drone with a clip-on sound system. The ground (air) breaking project, being delivered in partnership with local radio station brian fm, has been funded by Maritime New Zealand.

Harbourmaster Luke Grogan said he was always looking for opportunities to highlight boating safety and seeing drone technology being applied to COVID-19 responses globally sparked the idea. “Middle age blokes are often pretty resistant to the safer boating message but it’s this group that dominates the accident statistics.”

“We hope that by combining drone technology with the humour and reach of brian fm it will be effective in encouraging people to get on board with safer boating,” he said.

Subject to weather, the drone will be operated from the Picton Foreshore tomorrow morning from 9.30am by GCH UAV, accompanied by a Marlborough Harbourmaster marquee, safe boating information and friendly team members from Marlborough’s harbour team to help spread the key messages.

“Our main goal is to remind the boating public to operate at a safe speed but we will also be using the drone to reinforce other safer boating messages such as skipper responsibility, avoiding alcohol and making sure they have two forms of communication,” said Luke.

“We will also have a patrol boat on the water to reinforce the messages being delivered from above. If it goes well, we will move the drone to the different ports around the Marlborough Sounds throughout the summer,” he said.

So, if you are out on the water near Picton Harbour this coming weekend, be prepared, not for a message in a bottle but one from above. You have been warned...