Two divers becoming stranded on an island for around six hours off the coast near Kāeo when their boat broke anchor and drifted sparked a call from Coastguard for boaties to download a safety app.
Coastguard Whangaroa president Chris Wilkins said it was imperative small boat users – who were most likely void of a VHF radio - use the Coastguard App to log a trip report to ensure their safety.
"It means everyone has an idea of what the plan is. So rather than saying see you later, people will know when they should start raising the alarm."
His advice was prompted by a Coastguard Whangaroa call out sparked by a dinghy adrift with no one onboard near Stephensons Island, off Whangaroa Harbour, last Friday.
"The small vessel wasn't anchored and the keys were still in the ignition," Wilkins said.
"We thought whoever was on it has gone so there has to be a problem somewhere along the line."
A cellphone was located onboard the small boat as rescuers searched for clues to identify the occupant.
"Police became involved as it potentially could've been a missing person case."
Customs officers, initially on the Cavalli Islands, off Matauri Bay, were contacted by New Zealand Search and Rescue in Auckland and asked to complete a shoreline search starting on Flat Island, north of the Cavalli Islands.
"Two people were located ashore on Flat Island," Wilkins said.
The pair, described in their late 20s or early 30s, had gone for a dive at 7am but their boat broke from its anchorage. When they surfaced one of the men tried to swim for the boat but it was moving too fast.
Instead the duo swam to the nearest island, Flat Island, where they spent almost six hours trying to wave passing vessels down from their spot on the shore.
Wilkins said they towed the boat to Flat Island where the divers swam out to the Coastguard vessel as large swells made it too risky for them to tow it ashore.
"They were very appreciative," he said.
The men were unhurt and had all of their gear on them – minus their boat. They had even managed to catch a little crayfish, Wilkins said.
A logged trip report would have meant rescuers could access the diver's plans for the day – including where they were and an expected return time.
Wilkins said it was just as important for people to remember to close their logged trip once complete to avoid any mishaps.
The Coastguard App can be downloaded from App Store or on Google Play. In addition to logging a trip the app allows you to save a location, get live weather updates, and get five-day forecasts for wind, weather, swell and tides.
Coastguard Whangaroa has responded to five call outs this year to ensure boaties had been brought home safely.
The emergencies involved boats that had broken down requiring a tow or a jump start.
"Fortunately no medical emergencies," Wilkins said.
The volunteers cover an area between Cape Karikari to Cape Brett – almost 100km away, and sometimes the Bay of Islands if their local coastguard is unavailable.
Wilkins said they could always do with more volunteers to ensure the unit could continue to respond to incidents 24-hours a day.
"People are always welcome to join our big happy family and enjoy the comraderie, social functions and learn a lot of new skills."
Volunteers have the opportunity to learn basic medical skills and gain boating qualifications that match the depth of a commercial skipper's education.
Anyone interested can contact Whangaroa Coastguard on firstname.lastname@example.org.