Joint rescue involving Waiuku Coastguard sees kayakers rescued

A joint rescue operation involving Waiuku Coastguard and Eagle took place earlier today, 29 March 2017 when two kayakers got into trouble off Cornwallis wharf in west Auckland.

Police received reports that a kayak had flipped near the wharf at about 3.15pm on Wednesday 29 March 2017. The Eagle was deployed and located the kayakers, who were both wearing life jackets, on the other side of the peninsula.

They had turned the double sit-on kayak over and one had clambered back on board, but the other kayaker was still in the water. “It was a fast outgoing tide and they’d travelled quite a way from where they were originally reported,” said Air Support Unit Supervisor Sergeant Callum Young.

“Our crew kept an eye on them and reported back to the Police Maritime Unit and Coastguard as to their location and condition.”

The Coastguard and Westpac Rescue Helicopter were also deployed but officers on board the Eagle soon noticed one of the kayaker’s condition deteriorating.

“The guy who was still in the water had started to turn blue and was struggling to hold on to the kayak, so one of our rescue swimmers was sent into the water,” said Sgt Young.

The Police Eagle helicopter deployed a swimmer officer who jumped about 5m from the Police Eagle helicopter into the sea  to assist the kayaker. The officer used a rescue tube to help the kayaker before getting him back onto the kayak.

The officer stayed in the water so he could try to stabilise the kayak while signalling to the Eagle crew about the kayakers’ condition.

NZ Steel Rescue (Coastguard Waiuku) arrived on scene 10 minutes later, recovering both kayakers and the Police swimmer and took both the kayakers and the officer back to Cornwallis Wharf, where Ambulance staff were waiting.

According to Waiuku Coastguard, total time elapsed, from initial response to recovery to ambulance, was under one hour. The Operations Centre received a Mayday relayed over VHF Ch16, from a pair of kayakers at 1524 this afternoon. The pair had found themselves unable to get back into their kayak and were drifting towards the choppy Manuaku Bar. The Police Eagle helicopter responded to fix their exact position, while Coastguard Waiuku has just launched from Te Toro Boat Ramp – eta. 30 minutes.

No-one was injured but both kayakers were treated at the scene for the effects of the cold.

The officer was in the water with the kayakers for about 10-15 minutes.“We attend a lot of water rescues but it’s rare that officers have to jump in,” said Sergeant Young.

“It was great work by the Eagle crew and especially the officer who jumped into the water.

“The guys in the kayak were both wearing life jackets and did a lot of things right, but the conditions were very harsh.

“This incident highlights the importance of water safety and being prepared for rapidly changing conditions – it could have been a very different outcome if they hadn’t been wearing life jackets.”

Police would like to thank the Coastguard and Westpac Rescue Helicopter for their assistance in the rescue.