Coastguard Mana is off the water for at least two weeks after a $12,000 outboard motor was stolen from their only boat.
The engine was recovered yesterday afternoon after being taken on Saturday night, but it would take a fortnight to repair the electronics and cabling, at a cost of about $3000, acting president Mark Presling said.
"We cannot get out on the water and rescue people, save lives."
Coastguard Kapiti, Coastguard Wellington and the police maritime unit are the closest responders if marine rescue support is needed off Mana.
A Hutt Valley man bought the stolen motor and tried to buy new cables for it yesterday in Seaview. The business in question had read an email plea from the coastguard to look out for a stolen motor, and contacted maritime police, Presling said.
"He was told it was dodgy. We matched up the serial numbers. It really comes down to amazing community support."
The man in question was being interviewed and an arrest was expected soon, maritime police Senior Sergeant Dave Houston said.
Thieves appeared to have cut through a secure fence at the Mana Marina, where the 5-metre inshore rescue boat was parked, and unbolted one of two motors from the back of the boat overnight on Saturday.
Presling said when he turned up with a group of volunteers for training on Sunday, there was "shock, followed by disbelief and general frustration" when they realised it had been stolen.
"It's very, very disappointing. We've put a lot of effort into training, getting ready for the summer period and this has put a serious dent in our abilities to get our crews on to the water and make sure that they are safe, and that they are capable of going in and rescuing other people."
The 120kg, 60-horsepower motor would cost about $3000 to reinstall after a fuel line was severed and some of the electrical cables damaged in the theft. Coastguard Mana would have to fundraise for the likely $3000 excess costs, Presling said.
"That's a lot more fundraising. We are currently having to replace our big vessel, which has just been taken out of service because it's been deemed unsafe by the surveyor.
"So we're already working hard on coming up with a replacement vessel for that and this is going to eat into those funds significantly."
A Givealittle page set up after the theft had raised $670 as of last night.
It was the second time an outboard motor had been stolen from the coastguard. The last theft kept them off the water for a few months while they raised funds for a replacement, Coastguard Mana rescue co-ordinator Trevor Farmer said.
"Whoever has done this has done a complete disservice to the community."
- The Dominion Post
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