Coastguard taps city council for $100,000 towards rescue boat

Bluff Coastguard has asked the Invercargill City Council for $100,000 to help fund the new rescue boat it hopes to buy this year.

The group put its case at a full council meeting last night.

Bluff Coastguard spokesman Cam McCulloch said the boat was needed urgently and a large number of boaties out on the waters of Foveaux Strait were from the city council's jurisdiction.

The group had reached 60 per cent of its $1.2 million target but hoped to get $100,000 from both the city and district councils, and $200,000 from Environment Southland through its cruise-ship levy, Mr McCulloch said.

The request from the city council would equate to about $2 a ratepayer if the money was approved through the Annual Plan process, he said. "This is a one-off opportunity for council to assist this essential service."

The coastguard rescued 33 people in the year ending June 2013, he said.

But the boat was old and at risk of a breakdown during a search-and-rescue mission. It was also difficult to transfer patients to a helicopter, Mr McCulloch said.

Its lifespan was shortened because it was kept in the water so the crew could respond quickly.

Councillor Alan Dennis questioned why the boat could not be hoisted above the saltwater to slow its deterioration.

Coastguard president Andy Johnson said that, if the council was willing to pay for a mechanism to keep it above water then they would be more than happy to.

"We can probably get it out of the water if you would want to give us another $50,000."

The new boat is expected to last until 2045.

The group will make a presentation to the Southland District Council next week.

The Southland Times