Noel has just clocked up his 21st year with the Regional Council. Compare that to his 70 years boating experience though, and it doesn’t seem that long at all.
Nineteen of those years were spent as a volunteer Safer Boating Advisor, educating boaties from Ōmokoroa to Waihī Beach on how to be safe on the water. It’s quite the volunteering legacy and for the council, tasked with keeping the waterways from Waihī Beach in the west to Lottin Point in the east safe for everyone to enjoy, one it’s extremely grateful for.
When asked what’s changed over the years, the man who calls a spade a spade reflects that attitude is what stands out to him.
“The change is for the better. We used to be looked upon as the enemy, but now people are pleased to see us on the water doing our job.”
“What it boils down to is education. All the signs, channel markers and communications the council has organised to help educate folk about how to be safe on the water appears to be sinking in. There has been a remarkable turnaround.”
When Noel first started helping out it was from his own vessel and using his own petrol.
“Back then we used to wave a Harbourmaster flag when we were patrolling. These days we are paired up with others, work from dedicated patrol vessels and are really well trained and equipped. We do a much better job as a result.”
Noel was also quick to point out whilst he was on patrol last season there was 100% compliance in his patch for boaties carrying lifejackets.
“I didn’t ever think we would win that battle but we are. There is an increasing number wearing them too.”
For those who like being on the water, Noel highly recommends volunteering as a Safer Boating Advisor or working as a Harbour Warden. If you are a qualified skipper or experienced boatie and want more information on what a Harbour Warden or Safer Boating Advisor does and how to become one, contact Daniel Rapson at Regional Council on 0800 5KNOTS.