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Gruelling sea rescue saves lives

DELWYN DICKEY
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012
Kawau Coastguard
RESCUE REWARD: Coastguard Kawau volunteer crew, L-R: Vincent Lochmann, with Coastguard Northern Region’s Ray Burge, skipper Miles Glover, James Sanders, Thelma Wilson, and Ian Suckling.

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Mountainous seas and high winds did not stop the Kawau Coastguard from rescuing a launch and its two occupants in danger off Te Arai Point.

Miles Glover, Thelma Wilson, Don Scandrett, James Sanders, Vincent Lochmann and Ian Suckling got Northern Region Rescue of the Year for the Hauraki Operational Area as a result.

The January 7 call-out saw them head north from Sandspit in atrocious weather to rescue two boaties and their disabled launch dragging its anchor and in danger of being washed into Te Arai Point.

It took only 45 minutes for the crew to reach the stricken boat despite 55-knot winds, rain, and messy three-metre swells. The Mangawahi Surf Club's Sea Rider arrived at the same time.

The launch skipper had already been washed overboard once and pulled aboard by his mate.

But it was the gruelling five-hour return trip to the safety of Leigh Harbour, towing the stricken launch at a tortuous 5 knots, that tested all their limits.

The rescue boat slowed to a standstill at times as they fought wind, waves and tide with some of the crew suffering sea-sickness.

Both boats took on huge amounts of water as waves crashed over them, so much so that the rescue boat's wiring was damaged.

"It was a humbling experience to receive the award when surrounded by other dedicated volunteers in our unit who are just as much deserving as us," coastguard skipper on the day Miles Glover says.

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