Coastguard to the rescue

By: Dale Hodson

It’s been a long winter but Coastguard Hibiscus has been active in both training and helping out broken down boaties. There have been a few jump starts and more than a few tows but luckily not many after sundown.

One fine day in August our crew had been doing helm training and decided to head to Matiatia on Waiheke for a break (coffee and pie). As we tied up we were tasked to a 5-metre fishing boat off Manaia in Coromandel who needed a tow to Kawakawa Bay. After an initial thought of ‘that sounds a long way’, I found out it was only going to take us 40 minutes or so at best speed, straight over the Firth of Thames.

The boat was moored to a buoy marking an underwater fishery. They had launched before dawn and ran into thick fog then motored around until finding a suitable destination. When they started home a few hours later they had used more fuel than planned and headed as far as they could before doing the smart thing and mooring before running out.

We hooked them up, transferred a young fella to our vessel who was cold, tired and needed some chocolate, and began the hour and a half tow at 5-10 knots across to Kawakawa Bay boat ramp. Everything went as expected and we dropped them off safely.

As we finished, another call came in for a 10-metre launch halfway between Pakihi Island and Coromandel so we were off again. Unfortunately, their anchor chain was wrapped around their propeller and they couldn’t remove it safely.

It took us 30 minutes to locate the target, just as the swell started to get a bit rough. We tied up alongside to assess the situation and while Rach was on helm, keeping the bow to wind, Keith managed to slowly pull the chain up while I acted as a safety line. Eventually we recovered the hanging anchor so we could tow them to safety in Kawakawa Bay – the sea conditions were too rough to attempt freeing the rest of the chain in the middle of the Firth of Thames.

Upon arrival in the calm waters of the bay the owner jumped in and unwrapped the chain from the propeller; luckily there wasn’t any damage and we parted ways.

Finally, a quick reminder to all those who have stored their boats over winter: check your battery! If it’s run flat over winter, consider replacing it as a charge may not save it. Also, replace your fuel and filter (the fuel may be stale), and check your wiring for breakages or corrosion. Perhaps it’s time for your annual engine service by a marine mechanic, and do ensure your Coastguard membership is current.

Be safe on the water everybody.

Hibiscus Matters welcomes back our summer Coastguard Hibiscus column, with Dale Hodson.

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