There's never a good time to get in trouble at sea in a small boat, but if they could have picked one, two men nailed it at the weekend at Ocean Beach, east of Hastings.

Ocean Beach Surf Club captain Pat Benson said an annual three-day training camp was just drawing to a close with a barbecue and prizegiving when a member of the public alerted members to the plight of the pair about 5.30pm on Saturday.

The men were in a "little runabout" that was taking on water, starting to sink and drifting away from the shore about 1km south of the clubhouse and at least 1km out to sea.

An estimated 30-40 people with lifeguarding and rescue skills were present and the club immediately launched two inflatable rescue boats, crewed by club members Ben Doggett, Tom Grant, Andrew Callinicos, Mitch Glasgow and Jacob Crawley. The boats soon reached the stricken runabout and towed it to shore.


A strong shore-break made it tricky getting the runabout and the two locals to safety, but it was "no drama", Mr Benson said, because "that's what we do".

By late yesterday, rescues on Hawke's Bay beaches during the holiday season appeared relatively few compared with some areas further north.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand central region club development officer David Beattie said it was fortunate there hadn't been any major incidents during the periods patrolled by volunteers and paid summer staff.

At Papamoa, near Tauranga, record numbers of rescues have been reported, particularly in the unusually high swells of recent days. There were 37 rescues there in a week, APNZ reported yesterday.