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Unprepared boaties put lives at risk

Last updated 07:36 02/05/2012
PKC COastguard

HARD WORK: Coastguard Papakura rescue team is having a busy time, from left: Lisa Laufale, Jim Livett, Dianne Gilroy, Chris Laufale, Jarrod Mckenzie and Bruce Brownlee.

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Coastguard rescues on the Manukau Harbour have skyrocketed as boaties take to the water in droves to make the most of recent warm weather.

People are still taking too many risks out on the water, Coastguard Papakura chairman Cedric Charlton says.

In the past three weeks his team of volunteers experienced "a huge rush of rescues" that required a joint effort with other agencies to rescue boaties and fishermen.

Coastguard Papakura has been involved in:

A helicopter evacuation of two adults, two children and a dog from rocks at Puponga Pt, West Auckland, after they got stranded by the incoming tide.

Had it not been for a passing boatie who saw the family getting smashed by incoming waves, the operation would have easily become a body retrieval rather than a rescue, Mr Charlton says.

The group had no life jackets and clearly hadn't factored in the tides. Towing a 16-metre catamaran that broke down on its maiden voyage to Fiji and bringing it across the Manukau Bar at night. The crew were well prepared, safety conscious and organised and were successfully towed into the harbour with Coastguard Waiuku providing support. Towing in a 6-metre aluminium boat with three adults and two children that broke down. The occupants called the Coastguard by cellphone and a vessel was sent out across the Manukau bar at night to bring them back into the harbour.

They found the crew were inadequately prepared, had broken life jackets and not enough proper fitting life jackets for all on board.

"Out of these three rescues, two of them had crews or groups who weren't properly prepared or unaware of the conditions which put their lives at risk and in both of these cases children were involved," Mr Charlton says.

"The rescue missions could have become retrievals of up to nine people. This is simply unacceptable."

He says he can understand people wanting to maximise the last of the great weather but the Maritime NZ rules for keeping safe remain the same: Wear a lifejacket – take the correct sized lifejacket for each person and wear them Check the marine weather forecast and tides before you go out. If in doubt don't go out Carry emergency communications – have at least two types that will work when wet. Keep them on you Avoid alcohol – it impairs reaction times, your ability to cope if something goes wrong and survival time if you end up in the water.

Boaties should also tell someone when and where they are going and when they are due back.

"Combine these simple rules with common sense and everyone can safely enjoy our waterways and last of the great weather," Mr Charlton says.

"The message is simple and very clear, be safe on the water."

Coastguard is a charity that depends on volunteers and community donations to enable such rescues. Donations allow it to train its volunteers and to purchase and maintain equipment. Go online to papakuracoastguard.co.nz for more information.

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- Papakura Courier

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