Coastguard – Another day at the office

The last duty day I worked was a Saturday and a couple of us started at 8.15am preparing Hibiscus Rescue 1 for her day. This comprises safety checks, weather checks, gear checks and crew checks (coffee). Our skipper for the day Tom arrived and let us know he had organised a training exercise with ASB Rescue, one of the larger ‘heavy’ boats from Auckland.

Our navigator, Rachel, set a course for rendezvous to the east of Motuihe Island, and I let loose on our horses as it was a beautiful morning with calm conditions. On arrival, and after meeting the crew (and another coffee), we began a search exercise where ASB, their onboard tender ‘zero rescue’, and ourselves conducted a search within a designated sector for our target which was a fender with chain attached, stenciled with “Phil the fender”. It turns out Phil is a vital member of ASB rescue and the skipper said he missed him dearly.

Following this we were tasked by Coastguard Operations to Half Moon Bay where a 9m Searay launch had a rope wound around its propeller and needed a tow back to the Mt Wellington drystack. The boat was anchored near the ferry terminal and all passengers were safe.

We conducted a scene examination by looking for any other hazards during our tow operation. In this case they were out of the shipping lane and there was no damage to the fuselage which meant we could approach and tie up in a barge position straight away, tying them to our starboard (right) side. As the journey up towards Mount Wellington is restricted to 5 knots, this was the easiest method of tow, and meant we had the most control over both our vessels in confined spaces. The passengers were dry, happy for our help and very friendly during the tow. After dropping them off at the drystack we headed back to Half Moon Bay for lunch, when, halfway through our salads (pies), we were tasked to a 6.5m Stabicraft north of Waiheke that had run out of fuel. We got there within an hour and a half.

After ascertaining it was safe for both vessels, we approached and loosely tied onto their starboard side. It turned out that one of the passengers was feeling under the weather so we brought her onto Hib1 and made her more comfortable. This was mainly because during the tow our vessel would be slightly more stable, and in case it wasn’t only seasickness we could treat her if needed.

After connecting the towline we set a course for Half Moon Bay where they launched from, and kept in contact over VHF radios. Due to the towed vessel design we were able to average 7 to 8 knots, which is good for a tow, and got back to the marina without incident. All passengers were grateful and thankful for their Coastguard membership.

By this time it was after 5pm and we headed back to Gulf Harbour for close down and debrief. We were also on call until the next morning, which meant if we were paged we would respond, but that evening we had a full night’s sleep.

Thanks Stillwater Boat Club
We would like to extend a massive thank you to Christine Black, Corrine Graydon and the Stillwater Boat Club. Coastguard Hibiscus were the beneficiary of 50 percent of the funds raised at the club’s fishing competition, family day and charity auction, receiving $3500 (with the other $3500 going to Waterwise) which is hugely appreciated. Without support like this, it would be very hard for a volunteer organisation like ours to continue saving lives at sea. See you on the water, be safe everybody!