Coastguard safety scheme covers notorious bar

Boaties crossing the notorious Manukau bar on Auckland's west coast will be given a 30-minute period of grace before the alarm bells are rung if they fail to report.

The Auckland Coastguard has asked boaties to report in before they head out from the bar or come back in.

Once the coastguard has received the call for boats crossing the bar, they will be given 30 minutes and if another call is not received within that time on VHF channel 81, a search will begin.

Manukau bar was calm and inviting yesterday, the second day of idyllic boating conditions on both the east and west coast for Auckland boaties, but it is one of the most dangerous bars in the country.

Many people have died at the bar, site of the country's worst maritime tragedy. In 1863, 189 British sailors and marines perished when the warship HMS Orpheus foundered as it tried to enter the Manukau Harbour.

Auckland Coastguard duty officer Mike Lawrence said the bar was not a place to be treated with anything other than extreme caution.

Boaties who had not experienced it should take at least two trips out with an experienced skipper before going solo.

Boaties heading out at Kaipara, north of the Manukau, and at Raglan and Waikato, south of the Manukau, would be given 20 minutes after they had checked in with the coastguard.

Southern boaties should call the coastguard on Channel 86 and boaties at Kaipara should use Channel 84.

"If we don't receive a second call after a certain time we start looking for them.

"They call before they start crossing, either outside or inside, and they call again once they are safely over, whichever side they are."

He said many boaties used the service, but not enough.

- NZPA

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