Coastguard: Saving More Lives Out West

Auckland is known as the City of Sails for a reason. Aucklanders just love the water. Uniquely placed straddling the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours, it’s no wonder that we spend so much time out on boats and yachts. Sadly, that also means that every day of every year, people of all ages and backgrounds get into trouble while enjoying the water. Coastguard is a charity doing fantastic work saving lives and keeping Kiwis safe. And now even more lives out West will be saved thanks to those who voted in this year’s Million Dollar Mission.

Coastguard Northern Region has successfully applied for $34,390 to go towards the $350,000 needed for a new rescue vessel for Coastguard Titirangi which will support the organisation’s work on the Manukau Harbour.

There’s no doubt that Coastguard provides an essential service. Fundraising & Community Engagement Manager, Aoife Healy, explains:

‘In Coastguard’s Northern Region we have 25 units with 28 rescue vessels, 2 search aircraft and dedicated marine communication networks covering from Kāwhia in the Waikato across to Thames and up to Cape Reinga in the Far North.

‘24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year our dedicated volunteers will do everything they can to save a life.

‘Last year Coastguard Northern Region’s volunteers answered 2,402 calls for assistance and helped 6,276 people get home safely to their loved ones,’ Aoife concludes.

People can get into trouble for a variety of reasons including mechanical or electrical failures, capsizing, running out of fuel or suffering a medical event while on the water. Often though it’s an unexpected change in the weather conditions that can lead to disaster.

Toby, Chris and Lewis know only too well how quickly conditions can turn nasty. They had been enjoying a day’s fishing and were preparing to head for shore when the weather began to rapidly deteriorate. The next thing the trio knew a giant wave had swamped their small powerboat.

The friends managed to make a distress call to the Coastguard operations centre before their boat capsized and they were dumped into the cold and choppy water.

The Coastguard Air Patrol was quickly despatched to locate the men arriving on the scene just four minutes later.

The plane’s initial search of the area failed to locate the friends who were by now desperately clinging to the upturned boat. However, luckily following a second sweep of the area one of the crew spied the men and a Coastguard vessel was able to rescue them.

Boatie Chris was full of praise for the Coastguard following the successful rescue, ‘These are people that volunteer their time to basically put themselves second to people like us… without them, we wouldn’t be here.’

The Million Dollar Mission will make a difference to Coastguard Northern Region’s ability to respond to requests for help from boaties like Chris and his friends. The funding has enabled the charity to leverage other funders and donations.

Participation in the Mission has had another unexpected benefit too as Aoife explains:

‘The public voting system was a fantastic opportunity for our community to give to us without needing to donate. It allowed us to speak to our supporters and ask them to help us in another way. This stretched from the local volunteers in Titirangi and the West Auckland community to our membership and online supporters.’

On behalf of Coastguard, Aoife expressed her thanks to West Aucklanders by saying: ‘We are very grateful to all our supporters and the voting public out West.’