This week saw the first beach rescue of the year for the Whanganui Surf Lifesaving Club.

A 13-year-old was saved by Layton Comp, on patrol at Castlecliff Beach. It was Comp's first rescue as a paid lifeguard on the notoriously treacherous west coast.

"You could kind of see her struggling and waving," Layton said.

"So I just wasted no time to get out there with my tube, stripped off, just ran in there."


"She got stuck in the trough, got taken up by a big wave, swept off her feet down to an immediate drop off and then got caught in the rip and was swimming in, trying to swim herself back in, but failed to do that."

It was an eventful day for Whanganui marine rescue all round, as many locals took to the water after recent strong winds died down a little.

The second incident involved an overturned fishing boat flipped by a wave on the river bar, requiring the combined efforts of lifesavers, Coastguard and police.

Phil Gilmore, from the Whanganui Surf Lifesaving Club, said it was lucky they were spotted and picked up by another boat, the police notified and in turn notifying the surf lifesavers.

"We immediately dispatched one of our rescue boats to go and have a look, which is lucky for them," he said.

"They got wet, they got embarrassed - but the boat that they were using was totally inappropriate for the sea. It was more suited for a lake or pond than the West Coast, Tasman Sea. And this beach here is notorious."

"They went out on the low tide," said Gary Hawkins, from the Coastguard.

"There was a bit of swell running in it and you get the wave standing up on the bar so they've just hit one of those."


It was a lucky escape for the pair of fishermen, whose boat was swept quickly away by the strong current. Lifeguards and the Coastguard tried to right the boat at sea but couldn't.

"We towed it in upside down about three miles, only towing at about one to two knots, so fairly slow.

According to club records, the Whanganui Surf Lifesaving Club was established in 1909, and is possibly the oldest in the country, founded after many tragedies in the water.

"The club here was started when the harbourmaster's daughter was drowned at the Morgan Street entrance to the beach, which is where the river mouth is, and where the people got into trouble today," Gilmore said.

"It's claimed a lot of lives and a lot of boats over its history."

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