Mitre 10 Coastguard Rescue of the Year – Coastguard Canterbury

Coastguard Canterbury

Sunday 24th May was a smooth day on Lyttelton harbour and a group of seven people headed out in their wooden run-about for a picnic.   However, at 3.30pm that afternoon there was a dramatic weather shift, and a strong, southerly weather bomb swept down the harbour. The temperature plummeted and rain and sleet followed. In a matter of minutes, the harbour was transformed from glassy and tranquil into a frenzy of rough water. 

Coastguard Canterbury was deployed in 21 knots - conditions were rough and visibility was poor.  The crew located the runabout on the beach at Little Port Cooper. Two crew waded ashore and snow had started to fall on the beach.  They located three adults, three small children and a one year old baby sheltering from the weather – the group had made a shelter and fire to keep warm. 

Coastguard volunteers carried the terrified children out to the rescue vessel and two adults followed. The third adult was shivering violently and unable to speak clearly and was helped aboard. The children were terrified asking the crew “Is this boat going to sink?” and “Is my Daddy going to drown?  Canterbury Rescue made its way back through terrible conditions with all persons safely on board while towing the runabout. 

On arrival back at Naval Point the survivors were taken ashore to a very worried gathering of family and friends.   After the ordeal the crew had an opportunity to speak to the group and learned they had intended to spend the day at the bay, but the tide went out and left their boat aground.  While waiting for the incoming tide the weather bomb hit.  The group attempted to depart the bay, but were almost swamped.

They tied the four small children together through their lifejackets fearing the boat would be swamped - and the children washed overboard. The Skipper decided to return to the shore after getting a scratchy phone call out to a friend who then alerted Coastguard.  This ordeal could easily have ended with tragic circumstances, but thanks to the heroic efforts of Coastguard Canterbury, seven people were bought home safely that day.

Thanks to Mitre 10 for your support of this award!

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