Coastguard – Thirty busy hours

We were extremely lucky with the weather over Labour weekend with Saturday and Sunday playing ball wind and sun wise which meant the Hauraki Gulf was extremely busy. Coastguard Hibiscus was on the water for the full three days and while Saturday was quiet from a tasking perspective, Sunday and Monday did not disappoint.

On Monday alone our volunteers were out on the water for over 11 hours making sure everyone got home safely.

On Monday we had an early morning page to assist a vessel from the back of Little Barrier back to Gulf Harbour marina. The morning had a lovely 10 knots of wind, however this increased quickly to 20 knots as we approached Little Barrier. This meant that our tow speed had to be reduced to around 10 knots which makes a very long tow, and we did not get back to Gulf Harbour until around 3pm.

Halfway through refuelling we were paged again urgently to a yacht that was just outside the marina with sail drive issues and was dragging anchor towards the breakwater. 

The weather had turned to 30 knots easterly and this made it even more urgent as it was blowing directly towards the rocks. The owners were extremely relieved to see us, and that was another job done. While that was taking place, another trailer sailor had mechanical difficulties and needed help getting back to the boat ramp, so we shot out again. We did however do a crew change beforehand as these taskings take a toll on our volunteers physically and mentally and that’s when mistakes can be made due to fatigue. So, with a fresh crew we completed that tasking. 

In total, 30 hours on the water, 1000 litres of fuel and some very tired crew on Labour Weekend alone.

Check your life jackets 

The benefits of inflatable life jackets are clear – lightweight, comfortable and compact. Therefore, more of these jackets are finding their way into the market as boaties and fisherman realise they can happily wear one all day.

However, what a lot of these people do not realise is that the mechanisms that triggers these jackets to inflate need to be checked each year to ensure everything is operational. All it involves is a couple of simple steps to make sure your inflatable is up to scratch and will work when you need it to most.

Check all zips, buckles, waist belts and all other fastening mechanisms and devices for excessive wear, cracking, fraying corrosion or anything to indicate possible loss of strength.

Check that the lifejacket has not been previously activated as the cylinder can only be used once, so check that the green or red clip is in place and that the cylinder does not have a hole pierced in the top and if it does – replace the cylinder. Replacement cylinders can be purchased from most marine supply shops. 

Your inflatable lifejacket is a life saving device. Care for it as though your life depended on it. One day, it just might.

Coastguard Hibiscus crew chief