Waihi Beach overnight rescue of yacht aground on Bowentown Bar

Bowentown, 8 March 2024 – Last night, Coastguard Waihi Beach successfully conducted a search and rescue operation after a yacht ran aground on Bowentown Bar. The incident occurred when a yachtsman misjudged the tide in the channel and contacted Coastguard at 10:24pm for assistance.

The situation escalated to a mayday at 11:26 PM. By midnight, Waihi Beach volunteers had launched their rescue vessel, 'Gallagher Rescue,' with seven crew members onboard.

Throughout the operation, there was continuous communication between the yachtsman, Coastguard Operations Centre, and the Waihi Beach crew to ascertain the location of the yacht and wellbeing of the individual onboard.

Despite not having an EPIRB or flares onboard, the person used flashing red lights to help Coastguard identify his location in the dark.

The person onboard was wearing a lifejacket, and the crew successfully attached a tow line and freed the yacht from the sandbank. Despite some bruising, the yachtsman appeared to be okay.

Andrew Jennings, skipper of Gallagher Rescue, commented on the challenging operation, stating, “Operating at night in shallow water with breaking surf made it challenging to attach the tow line to the yacht. This incident highlights the importance of our training, including night-time exercises, and showcases our preparedness and teamwork."

Coastguard Waihi Beach Unit President Sam Dunlop commended the dedication and skill of the entire crew, including those on the rescue vessel, the radio room, and those involved in launching, retrieving, and clean-up. "The crew did a great job, and we're pleased to have returned the yachtsman to safety."

Dunlop adds, "This incident is a reminder to boaties why all bars need to be treated with respect and why it's crucial to check conditions before crossing."


Kimberley Waters
Coastguard New Zealand Communications Manager
[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