Check boats before heading to sea

By Brendan Manning

Local Coastguard operators are urging boaties to check their boats before hitting the water this summer.

Coastguard responded to 281 calls for assistance in Tauranga in the last year, resulting in 316 people being assisted.

Tauranga Coastguard operations manager Simon Barker said most callouts were due to mechanical issues.

"Sometimes it's a flat battery, sometimes it's fuel problems.

"If they're launches, things like water pumps go, or there's a breakdown with a bearing or something like that - it depends on the type of boat."

Flat batteries could be avoided by taking a jump start pack available from auto stores, Mr Barker said.

"We carry them on our boats, a lot of the time it's just a case of passing one of those over and starting a boat."

Nationally, Coastguard rescued 158 people and saved the lives of 50 others during Search and Rescue operations in the past year, its 2012 annual report reveals.

It also assisted 368 who would have been at risk if Coastguard had not intervened.

Forty-five people perished before Coastguard could save them and 61 others were not located and rescue crews stood down.

Coastguard embarked on 3339 missions nationally in the year to June 30.

People who had recently had their boats serviced should not head straight out to sea either, Mr Barker said.

"An amazing number of times people say, 'Oh, we've just had the boat serviced' and they've got a problem with it.

"I think if you had just had the engine serviced, probably stay a little bit closer to shore.

"It does seem strange, you think that once it's been serviced it's going to be perfect. But a lot of the time there's a problem there."

Coastguard chief executive Patrick Holmes said most Coastguard callouts were for broken down boats due to neglectful owners.

"If the engine's been sitting idle for six months and you've got dirty fuel - then to go out when you haven't done the basic maintenance on the vessel - you're asking for trouble.

"The terrible things that happened for example down in Bluff earlier this year with the Easy Rider that went down - thankfully they're the minority of our call outs. Most of them are things that are a little bit more mundane but nevertheless, if not dealt with could equally be life-threatening."

Mr Holmes said Coastguard was a charity and its biggest challenge was sourcing funding.

The Government contributed $1.9 million towards the organisation's Search and Rescue costs for the year ended June 30, 2012.

The organisation relied on volunteers for the "vast majority" of its work.

More than 350,000 hours were donated by Coastguard's 2398 volunteers in the past year - an average of 151 hours per person. The majority - 136,000 hours - were spent on radio watch and a further 80,000 hours on training.

Behind many volunteers was a partner or spouse who provided invaluable support, Mr Holmes said.

"I cannot thank them enough for the sacrifices they make - for the cold or ruined dinners and countless other inconveniences suffered on our behalf ... "

Coastguard's royal patron, Prince Charles, is set to visit the marine rescue centre in Auckland on Monday.

Water Rescues

  • 281 calls for assistance in Tauranga

  • 316 people assisted in Tauranga

  • 16,855 hours spent by Tauranga volunteers

  • 3339 Coastguard missions nationally in the year to June 30

  • 6634 people assisted nationally

  • 2398 Coastguard volunteers

  • 363,108 total volunteer hours nationally


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