Coastguard Whangarei complete mammoth 11-hour yacht tow

Volunteers from Coastguard Whangarei have battled rough conditions and darkness to complete a massive 11-hour yacht tow from north of Great Barrier Island, with around-the-clock support from the Coastguard Operations Centre.

Circa Rescue with six volunteers departed Marsden Cove just after 8.30am yesterday, responding to a 26ft yacht with one POB which was experiencing mechanical and communications issues. In lumpy 1.5m sea conditions, they reached the yacht around 11.30am and set up a tow line, with two volunteers boarding the yacht to assist.

Averaging around 4.5knots, Circa Rescue slowly began its journey home, stopping at the Mokohinau Islands about 4pm to give volunteers a break from the cold wind. Volunteers were also able to use the sheltered environment to fully assess the yacht, the skipper and the situation as a whole before resuming.

Roughly halfway, the yacht began to take on water, with volunteers rejoining the yacht to stop the ingress. As the tow job reached the Hen and Chicken Islands, around 8pm, Circa Rescue was met by seven volunteers aboard Whangaruru Rescue who swapped onto the vessel for the rest of the tow.

After more than 14 and half hours after departing, Circa Rescue arrived back in Marsden Cove with the yacht safely in tow just after 11pm.

Coastguard Whangarei President Cherie Nelson was a crew member on Circa Rescue and said that the tow pushed the crew and vessel to its limits and was one of the longest on record.

“Given the sea conditions and issues with the yacht, it was fortunate that we were able to get out to the scene as quickly as possible and prevent what could have been a much more serious situation,” she said.

“As we knew it was going to be a long tow, we had two skippers on-board to be able to share the load. It was also amazing to have the resources to completely switch the crew on the way home and ensure fresh energy could complete the tow back to Marsden Cove safely.

“I’d like to thank all our volunteers involved yesterday for their sacrifice and commitment to spending an entire day helping someone back to safety. This is what embodies a Coastguard volunteer.”

Coastguard also acknowledges the whānau and employers of our volunteers, generously allowing our crews to save lives at sea!

For more information, contact:
Ben Parsons 
Coastguard New Zealand Senior Communications Advisor
[email protected]

Thanks to our life-saving partners:
  • Auckland Council
  • Northland Regional Council
  • Waikato Regional Council
  • Hutchwilco
  • Marine Deals
  • Tower
  • Kordia
  • Hyundai
  • Line7
  • Century Batteries
  • Half Moon Bay
  • NZCT
  • Lotteries Grants Board
  • Lion Foundation
  • Pub Charity