Fundraising triumph as rescue boat hits the water

It has two state-of-the-art seats that keep the patients still and comfortable, two stretcher beds, and anti- vibration pads on the floor to take the jarring out of the ankles and knees.

The covered medical bay of the Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard's new rescue boat has been designed to look after all the needs of distressed boaties picked up at sea.

Before, the patients used to lie down on a stretcher on the old rescue boat, exposed to the weather.

Now, more sophisticated help is close by should boaties suddenly find themselves in trouble off the coast of Western Bay.

TECT Rescue - a 14m, 14-tonne, jet-powered catamaran - has been launched following more than three years of fundraising for the $1 million project.

Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT) took up the naming rights with a grant of $250,000, and 88 organisations and individuals sponsored the project - including Bay Foundation, which provided two grants totalling $183,000.

Tauranga coastguard president Chris Clark said the new boat would meet the rescue needs for the next 20 years.

The time involved in incidents at sea had risen and rescue boats were tracking further offshore, so safety of volunteers was also important.

The coastguard's 70 volunteers, operating on a weekly roster system, attended 163 incidents last year and put in a total of 12,000 volunteer hours.

The rescue vessel, designed by Christchurch-based Scott- Robson and built by Oric Boats of Tauranga, has a maximum speed of 35 knots and a cruising speed of 25 knots.

It is powered by two 500hp Yanmar turbocharged motors driving two Hamilton jets, and onboard are the latest electronics and radar with a range of 15 nautical miles.

There is a three-dimensional chart plotting system that provides pictures of the sea below, all the latest lighting and radio gear, and the blue ARROW control system from HamiltonJet.

At the touch of the mouse, the boat can be moved in any direction or held still, increasing its manoeuvrability.

Tauranga coastguard has eight skippers and the new rescue boat will be crewed, at any one time, by a minimum of four volunteers. The boat has facilities to enable crew to stay up to a week at sea.

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