Coastguard – Cyclone wash up

With Cyclone Gabrielle and the State of Emergency, call outs for Coastguard Hibiscus have been sporadic. 

In saying that, we are extremely thankful that most people headed the weather forecast and didn’t try to go out. The winds at one point, measured from Tiritiri Matangi Island, exceeded 80 knots. 

There was a lot of devastation around the country – there were also many boats that broke moorings and boats sunk on moorings. It gives us a timely reminder to ensure that your mooring is surveyed and safe along with ensuring that bilge pumps on moored vessels have a power source and are functional.  

After the cyclone there was a huge amount of debris left in the harbour and outer areas. This will be around for some time until it finds its way to be beached or sink so it is imperative, if you are out and about, to keep a very close eye on what is in front of you. Some of the debris is large enough to sink large boats and at speed can be catastrophic. 

Any hazards should be reported to the Harbour Master. It should be noted that Coastguard, whilst willing to help, are not your first point of contact if you find these hazards. The Harbour Master is responsible for the reporting and actioning of this sort of request.

During the cyclone, a yacht from Great Barrier had broken is anchor line and then had mechanical failure rendering the yacht and its solo elderly crew member unable to move.  With the winds exceeding safe operating guidelines and sea state exceeding 10m swells, locating and assisting this vessel was truly challenging. No air assets were given clearance to fly in those conditions so the only option was to bring in the NZ Navy Ship Te Mana who located the vessel from an emergency locator beacon and launched a small inflatable rescue boat from the ship. They managed to pluck the very lucky sailor from the water and bring him back to Auckland. This is a reminder that the sea can be extremely unforgiving, and whilst this was a fantastic outcome it could have easily ended in tragedy.

Let’s hope we have a very long dry autumn that will allow you all to enjoy the Hauraki Gulf and beyond. We are extremely lucky to have this on our door step. Until next season – happy boating and be safe out there.

This is the final Coastguard column for this season. Thanks Zane for all your contributions!