Editorial: How fast to our own rescue?

Last updated 05:00 14/12/2013

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OPINION: The Bluff Coastguard serves screamingly dangerous seas in a boat that can safely be used only in moderate conditions.

Which is crazy.

You'll be shocked to learn that vessels are more likely to get into trouble when things cut up rough, which around here can happen with giddying speed.

So, then, what are we going to ask the guys back on shore to do?

Fold their arms until things fine up a bit?

Or, instead of abandoning the endangered, abandon instead any thoughts of their own safety (very noble) and the wellbeing of their wives, husbands, kids, mothers and fathers (slightly less noble).

Two nauseating options for the coastguard, then.

Sucks to be them.

Except the real decision to be made about this situation now rests with us. Not them.

The coastguard volunteers have done their part, on the water and off, and will continue to do so.

The question is whether the rest of us will content ourselves by wishing them all the very best in their future endeavours or be willing to front up to one of the imperatives of living where we do.

We're surrounded by treacherous water into which we head, for work and recreation, in increasing numbers.

The appeal, announced today, to see home the coastguard's campaign for a rescue vessel worthy of the name is one of the most deserving that The Southland Times has been involved in.

The $568,000 raised to date represents half of what's needed but if you want to bear a number in mind then you'd do better to consider the 33 people that were brought back to safety last year.

The problems with the existing boat go beyond the conditions in which it can work.

Its range is limited and it can't hold all the equipment that might be needed on a rescue.

A recent report of the coastguard missing out on an application for pokies money sat sourly with many readers, though typically the campaign to date has been far more heartening, from the $10,000 donation from the Invercargill Rotary Club, to the constancy of support by the cash-strapped NZAS, approaching its tenth year, or the NZ Lottery Grants Board's $300,000 grant when the coastguard - truth be told - had expected $50,000.

The new rescue boat has been labelled a "dreamboat". Yes and no.

Much as it's the craft of their dreams, there's nothing extravagant, or fanciful, about it. And "sensibly-figured-out-boat" doesn't have the same ring to it.

The replacement will be quicker to the rescue, particularly in worse conditions and more far-flung areas.

It will be safer.

It will be worth it.

An SBS Bank account is open for donations and there's a range of options for people and organisations to make contributions, large and small.

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The Southland Times will publish the names of all who step up.

- The Southland Times

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