Awaiting the call

By: Dave Tilley

The last few weeks have seen the continuation of some great weather up here on the Coast, which has seen many people getting out on the water and a continued busy time for the Hibiscus Coastguard unit.

The downside of this for those of us that rely on some rain to fill up our water tanks is that it’s been a bit of a difficult time conserving water and getting our tanks filled up.

The unit has continued to be extremely busy and our crews have put in some long days on the water assisting a wide range of vessels and people across the area.

When our crews are on the rescue vessels they never know what the next tasking will bring. Our crews constantly monitor a range of VHF and UHF radio channels including the inner and outer gulf frequencies, channels 60 and 64, as well as the emergency channel 16.

“Hibiscus Rescue 1, Hibiscus Rescue 1, Coastguard Radio calling, we have a tasking for you,” is the call we are listening for that means our colleagues manning the radio communications room at Mechanics Bay in Auckland have a job for us. This could be a non-urgent task such as a boat out of fuel or a flat battery, or it could be a much more urgent issue that requires us to make best safe speed to a location they will give us.
On a recent Sunday, when the weather was gusting at 25–30 knots at Tiri, the crew of Hibiscus Rescue 1 were out south of Gulf Harbour training to handle the vessel in heavy weather and planning on heading back to base as it looked as though it would be a quiet day. That all changed when we heard our call sign over the radio with an urgent task to head towards Waiake, between Torbay and Browns Bay, where they had reports that a fishing kayak had been found with nobody on board, a couple of miles off the coast.

On arrival in the area we began a search for the person in the water along with the Police helicopter and launch. After searching for a time and not finding anyone the police resources were given a location further offshore to search. They managed to locate the person in the water relatively quickly, a long way from his kayak, and after spending a long time drifting away from it. This was a great outcome as the conditions out on the water were not good and for a rescue vessel the distance we can see on the water is very limited when the sea gets up; this really showed the value of having a helicopter help with the search as they have a much greater field of vision sitting above the water.

The person from the kayak was taken to hospital for a check-up but was later released and was very grateful to have been found.

This is the last column for the summer from Coastguard Hibiscus, but you can be sure we don’t hibernate for the autumn and winter. We are still on call every day of the week and you will see us out on the water continuing with our training to help keep you safe on the water.

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