24-hour dive for coastguards

HANNAH MCKEE
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2013
diver
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ

FLIPPIN' COLD: Diving instructor Patrick Keenan hopes to raise $4000 for the Wellington Coastguard at this weekend's 24-hour dive at Scorching Bay. "It's part of our Kiwi lifestyle to spend time by the water."

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There are the usual ways to raise money for a good cause – sausage sizzles, guess the number of jelly beans in the jar, quizzes – and then there's the 24-hour diving challenge.

Patrick Keenan, an open-water dive instructor, and his team at Dive and Ski HQ decided it would be a creative and fitting way to raise money for the Wellington Coastguard.

From 3pm tomorrow until 3pm on Sunday, divers will be in the water at Scorching Bay as sponsored teams take 45-minute-long dives in relays.

After the success of last year's event, when Keenan and his team raised $2600, they decided to make the dive an annual event and have set their target this year at $4000.

"I think it's a part of our Kiwi lifestyle to spend time by the water," he says.

"To me, the Kiwi summer is synonymous with baches, barbecues and beaches.

"But you only need to open newspaper to see how often part of our lifestyle ends tragedy, and it's the who are there for to help prevent these tragedies."

The volunteer organisation relies on donations to fund 85 per cent of its annual operating costs – in the vicinity of $10.5 million – Keenan says. He began diving four years ago when he was introduced to it as a birthday present.

That developed into a passion, then became his profession.

His favourite part of last year's 24-hour dive was the sense of community that developed and his first dive at dawn.

"Seeing the Sun come up from under water was pretty special, and my buddy and I got to see a kind of changing of the guard as all the nocturnal life moved back to the shadows and the other fish start to liven up and get a move on."

The 24-hour dive is not just for the professionals. There will be educational talks and a rescue demonstration, and a no-experience-required diving programme, the proceeds of which will also be donated to the Wellington Coastguard.

There will be a barbecue, a raffle – drawn on Tuesday – with prizes that include accommodation at a bach on Lake Rotoiti, vouchers for Chocolate Fish Cafe and hundreds of dollars worth of dive equipment.

Here's hoping the weather gods are gentle on Keenan and his squad.

For more information, see www.facebook.com/24HourDive

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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