At 1157 hours on Saturday 28 October 2017, Coastguard Radio was notified by a member of the public who had just crossed the Waikato Bar that they’d come across debris suspected off a vessel in the water. Shortly after Surf Life Guards from Sunset Beach reported a sighting on a capsized vessel and were tasked along with Guards from Kariotahi and the Police Eagle Helicopter to begin a search. The member of the public was also asked to join the search and Coastguard Waiuku Volunteers paged to respond.
The member of the public soon reported sightings of more debris by way of a chilly bin and shoes, in following the debris trail they then located a person in the water who was quickly retrieved, a few minutes later two more people were located and bought on board the vessel. They were able to confirm that there were three of them on-board so all were now accounted for. Hypothermic as a result of spending nearly two hours in the water and one with a laceration to their hand they were transferred to NZ Steel Waiuku Rescue for treatment and transported to an awaiting ambulance.
The vessel had not logged a Bar Crossing Report with Coastguard Radio so we were not aware that they had attempted to cross the bar and got into trouble. It’s understood the trio have got into difficulty around 1030am when they hit a wave and capsized leaving them in the water with only one lifejacket between the three of them.
Coastguard Duty Officer Tony Winyard say “we can’t stress enough the importance of carrying two forms of communication with you and logging a Bar Crossing Report with Coastguard Radio. If this had been the case our response time would have been significantly reduced, the men are extremely lucky that the member of the public raised the alarm when they did”. “Wearing a lifejacket especially at times of risk such as crossing a bar will save your life” says Mr Winyard.
This is one of six incidents responded to by volunteers around the Northern Region so far on Saturday. A diver is in hospital after he surfaced from a dive near the bottom end of Waiheke Island and started suffering from vomiting and dizziness. Coastguard Maraetai responded to the call for help and transported the patient quickly to an awaiting ambulance.