Coastguard – Who you gonna call?

Every summer, Coastguard Hibiscus shifts to a roster than keeps one or other (and sometimes both) of our vessels on the water pretty much all day, every day of the busy season. By early January, our crews have clocked up quite a few callouts, and this year is no exception. Here are one or two examples:

No job too small
Our rescue vessel was tasked out to help jump-start a vessel whose owner had reported a flat battery. We turned up, put a crewman on board to assist, and tried the motor. Sure enough, no life. Our crewman then explored the hold, and found the battery in the ‘off’ position. He flicked it on – then tried the motor, which fired first time. It’s an easy enough mistake to make, and we’re always here to assist, but you can save yourself the trouble of calling out the Coastguard if you run through some basic checks before reaching for the radio!

. . . or too large . . .
One January day found Hibiscus Rescue 1 making for Islington Bay, Waiheke Island, to take a break from a ferocious easterly that was gusting 50 knots. A tugboat flagged our crew down with the news that a vessel had broken anchor and was drifting onto West Bay, Motuihe. Someone had to tow it away from the beach but the stricken craft was a 60-tonne, 120-foot converted fishing trawler – far too big for our vessel. Lion Foundation Rescue, one of the powerful Auckland Coastguard ‘heavies’, was despatched to assist. No sooner had the Hibiscus crew settled down to a sandwich when Lion radioed for assistance. They’d taken the trawler under tow, but needed Hibiscus Rescue 1 to tie a line onto it to serve as a stern thruster and a brake, so that the vessel could be towed into a sheltered bay. It was, reports the Hibiscus skipper, a ‘very busy time’ on the radios as they focused on manoeuvring the big craft, at a speed of 0.4 knots, successfully through a choppy channel to an anchorage.

. . . or unexpected …
There was more in store for that skipper, too. Later in the summer he took his young family north for a holiday, and while walking by an estuary he spotted a group of four swimming in what was clearly a fierce rip. Two members of the group made the shore, but the others were swept further out to sea; within a minute the situation had turned very dangerous. Luckily a diver preparing for a shore dive swam out to assist the two young ladies. Our skipper assessed the situation and decided that the conditions were not feasible to launch a surf rescue and that a vessel was needed get the group safely back to land, so he went off in search of a friendly boatie to assist. Fortunately a family was preparing their launch for an outing on the estuary and they were able to quickly put to sea with our skipper on board and pluck the girls to safety in the nick of time. The age-old message is worth spelling out: watch out for those rips.

Floating on air
Last but not least, our first response vessel Hibiscus Rescue 1 is sitting pretty on a brand-new air berth at Gulf Harbour, paid for in part by Z’s ‘Good in the Hood’ campaign, and partly from the proceeds of our auction. The air berth makes the boat a lot easier to dock and launch, and will help us respond even more promptly to callouts. Thanks again to all contributors!