Police slate rescued boaties

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 13:00 24/02/2014

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Motueka police are questioning the wisdom of boaties who had to be towed after getting caught on rocks off Stephens Bay about 5pm on Sunday..

Senior constable Gerry Tonkin said a small vessel with two adults, a child and dog was blown onto rocks and the sailors used a cellphone to call for help yesterday. The Rescue Co-ordination Centre put out a mayday call and within minutes another vessel had reached the stranded family and was towing the craft to Kaiteriteri. The family was reported as being safe on the beach at Kaiteriteri by 5.12pm.

Although the incident was minor and no-one was injured, Mr Tonkin said nobody should have been out on the water in yesterday afternoon's gale force winds.

"You didn't even have to look at a weather forecast; all you had to do was to look out a window."

There were two other marine callouts in Nelson. A member of the public raised the alarm after seeing a kitesurfer fall into the water and not get up. Coastguard Nelson sent its rescue vessel to pick the kitesurfer up and escorted him halfway back across the channel to Tahunanui's Back Beach, said Coastguard's duty manager for the day, Pete Kara.

Two kayakers off Haulashore Island were seen struggling in heavy conditions and rescuers from the Nelson Surf Lifesaving Club reached them. Mr Kara said the kayaks had not taken on water but the kayakers were brought back to land as a precaution.

Mr Kara said it was the responsibility of people taking to the water to make sure they knew the forecast. Coastguard Nelson, Nelson police and the Nelson Surf Lifesaving Club had just wrapped up a joint training exercise with the scenario of rescuing two kayaks when the call came about the kayaks off Haulashore Island.

Mr Kara said the rescue personnel had four different forecasts and were closely monitoring the weather for limits at which they would have called the exercise off for safety, although it finished before those limits were reached.

"It's the same message you hear over and over: even if it looks like a fine day, check the weather forecast before you go out," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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