Boating incidents keep rescuers busy

FRANCESCA LEE
Last updated 11:17 30/03/2013

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It was an unusually busy day on Good Friday down in Otago, with four marine search and rescue operations. 

Dunedin police said there were three mechanical failures, and one boat tipped over while trying to cross the bar at Taieri Mouth. 

"It was a very nice day and every man an his dog got out in their boats," said senior sergeant Brian Benn. "One boat tipped over in Taieri Mouth, 25km south of Dunedin at 12.41pm. There were three people on board. They were crossing the bar and misjudged it. A wave swamped them and the boat overturned. They were clinging to the hull of the boat. They managed to get close enough to swim to shore." 

Surf club rescue boats and a helicopter were sent out, and by the time they got there, the three passengers were safely on shore, and rescuers helped them to recover their boat. 

Then at 3pm, another call came in reporting an engine failure off the reef off Green Island, 20km north of Taieri Mouth. "There were three men intending to dive for crayfish. The initial information we got was they had engine failure and the boat was drifting towards rocks. Then we didn't receive any further communication from them. By the time we got there, their boat had hit the rocks and tipped upside down and they were clinging to the hull." 

The three men were pulled to safety and were "shaken but not stirred". 

A third incident, at the mouth of the Tokomairiro River, involved one man and one dog on a boat that had engine failure. Benn said a commercial fishing vessel, the Lady Anne,  was used to tow the boat into port. The boat owner rode on theLady Anne, but had left the dog on his boat as he was not able to catch it and bring it onto the fishing boat. Halfway to shore, the dog, a black Labrador, jumped off the boat. The dog has since found its way back to its owner.

Benn advised all boaties to make sure their motors were reliable and to have a back up engine if they were going off shore. All boaties should also have at least three forms of communication.

"When the boat goes upside down, the marine radio doesn't work because the aerial is underwater. You need a marine radio, emergency locator beacons, cell phone, and flares. You need three forms but we recommend four." 

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- The Press

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