Police, St John, Coastguard, firefighters, the rescue helicopter and even the Navy were all involved in the rescue of an ailing sailor in the Bay of Islands.

Constable Mike Gorrie, of Russell police, said the sailor suffered a medical event while his boat was moored in isolated Pomare Bay on Wednesday afternoon.

His companion raised the alarm as he lapsed in and out of consciousness.

St John Ambulance medics went to the nearest road access, Major Bridge Drive on Wahapu Peninsula, then rowed out in a dinghy to give first aid.


The Northland Rescue Helicopter was alerted but couldn't use a winch to hoist the man to safety because of the yacht's mast and movement.

Instead, police Search and Rescue, which was also involved, called in Coastguard and a Navy vessel which happened to be in the Bay on a training exercise.

A Navy inflatable and the Coastguard boat Bay Rescue II arrived around the same time.

The ailing sailor was transported to Russell wharf on the Coastguard vessel, where Russell volunteer firefighters helped get him into Gorrie's police car.

He was then driven to Russell School where the rescue helicopter was waiting to fly him to Whangārei Hospital.

Gorrie said the man's condition was serious at first but had improved considerably by the time he got to Russell.

It was a great example of different organisations working together to resolve an emergency, he said.

A Royal New Zealand Navy spokeswoman said the ship HMNZS Hawea was currently in the Bay of Islands for navigation training and would visit Opua this weekend.


The ship responded to a request for assistance on Wednesday afternoon and launched a rigid-hulled inflatable boat with the ship's medic on board.

It was the second time this month the Hawea had been asked to help in an emergency.

On November 6, the ship responded to a mayday call about a diver in trouble about 15 minutes away in the Hauraki Gulf. A Navy medic worked with staff from the Westpac Rescue helicopter to provide medical assistance.