Long nights for Coastguard crew

By: Dave Tilley

Firstly, all the crew members at Coastguard Hibiscus would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year!

The unit has progressively got busier, as the holiday season started and with the commencement of the America’s Cup racing. Coastguard units across the region are providing assistance on each race day, with three coastguard vessels based around the racecourse. Two of these have St Johns medics on board.

Coastguard Hibiscus has been involved in the transfer of a person with a serious medical condition from a spectator vessel to shore, for transfer to hospital during the Christmas Cup racing at the end of last year. 

A further vessel is available to assist with any other issues, such as mechanical breakdowns around the race area, and several Coastguard units assisted the race teams recently when the American boat capsized and began to sink.

That is in addition to the usual busy New Year period. The first week of January saw the Hibiscus unit respond to 13 callouts. Most of these were for mechanical breakdowns.

One particular day saw a 5pm callout to assist a vessel close to Little Barrier Island with a seized engine that required towing the boat back to Gulf Harbour – the crew got back around 9.30pm. Later that night the pager went off at 1.30am in response to a call from a vessel with mechanical issues requiring assistance out at Great Barrier Island. A fresh crew headed off for a long trip out and luckily were able to get the vessel started before heading home again, returning to Gulf Harbour around 5.30am! There have been several days over this time where crews have been called out in the evenings for one job, and then received more calls when they are out on the water, working through the night and returning in the early hours of the morning.

Our crews are also busy trying to raise funds to keep the unit operating. The next couple of days will see crew members out selling the Coastguard Summer Lottery tickets at various events around the local area. The summer lottery is Coastguard’s biggest fundraiser of the year and for each $10 ticket the unit sells, $7 of that comes directly back to the unit. So if you see us around and would like to help us out, buy a ticket – there are some fantastic prizes on offer.

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