Boaties 'broke every single rule in the book'

By Genevieve Helliwell of the Bay of Plenty Times

The Coast Guard helped rescue two teenage brothers whose excursion off Waihi Beach broke "every single boating rule". Photo / file
The Coast Guard helped rescue two teenage brothers whose excursion off Waihi Beach broke "every single boating rule". Photo / file

Two young brothers broke "every single boating rule in the book" when they were found lost and out of fuel in open water yesterday afternoon.

They had no VHF, no GPS, didn't say where they were going and didn't know how to use the old flares they had on board.

The young men, aged 15 and 20, left Bowentown boat club about 5pm on Saturday night with the intention of going to Mayor Island in a 5m fibreglass boat.

The pair, believed to be from Waikato, made the journey and spent the night in South East Bay before heading back to Waihi Beach about midday yesterday - and ran out of fuel.

After a distress cellphone call from the boys' family, Coastguard Waihi Beach and Tauranga Coastguard spent about two hours searching for the pair.

After about two hours of "vague conversation" between Coastguard and the brothers, Coastguard managed to find them between Karewa and A Beacon, off Matakana Island.

Murray Whitehead, of Coastguard Waihi Beach, today told the Bay of Plenty Times the brothers were inexperienced and had broken "every single boating rule in the book".

"They had no local knowledge, they had flares but they were old and they didn't know how to use them, no VHF, no GPS and they did have lifejackets but one was so old that it didn't have any straps. They hadn't made a trip report and didn't say where they were going.

"They were so unprepared for that journey," Mr Whitehead said.

When Coastguard phoned the brothers to find out where they were, they were "very inconsistent with their answers".

"They said they were not far from Mayor Island but further on in the conversation their stories kept changing, they were not very consistent with their answers," Mr Whitehead said.

Coastguard Waihi Beach launched their rescue boat Search 1 and Tauranga Coastguard's rescue vessel TECT Rescue when they received the phone call from the boys' family member and spent about two hours searching for the pair.

"They thought they were not far from Mayor Island and described a big island with a flat top ... which turned out to be Mauao not Mayor Island," Mr Whitehead said.

"Then they said they could see cranes so we asked if they could see big buildings and they said yes, so we knew they were somewhere near Tauranga."

Tauranga Coastguard found the boys about 2.30pm, with the assistance of a public vessel.

Mr Whitehead said yesterday's search for the pair cost the Coastguard 260 volunteer man hours.

Tauranga Coastguard initially found the boys and Coastguard Waihi Beach towed the boat back to Waihi Beach boat ramp.

Mr Whitehead said the boys were "very new boaties" and were "very lucky".

He said they were "ill-equipped to go out boating".

Mr Whitehead said this was a timely reminder for all boaties to have the correct equipment before heading out on the water.

"What I'd say to them is to do a day skipper course and learn about safety on the water, know the local geography, have a marine chart map and all the necessary equipment like a GPS, depth sounder, VHF, radio, check your batteries are charged and check the fuel before you go."

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