Check, take and wear lifejackets this Easter weekend
01 April 2021
Coastguard urges boaties to check, take and wear their lifejackets this Easter weekend
With variable weather predicted nationwide for this coming Easter long weekend, Coastguard is encouraging boaties to enjoy their time out on the water safely by asking boaties to ensure they are carrying the right safety gear to ensure their friends and whānau stay safe on the water.
As a big family weekend, Easter in 2019 saw Coastguard volunteers respond to 105 calls for help across the country. Easter is earlier this year and with variable weather forecast for the four days, we urge boaties to take and wear lifejackets – they’ve never ruined a day out on the water and save lives, such as in the two incidents below.
Lifejackets: take them, and wear them
Mohammed and three friends were coming back in over the Manukau Bar on Saturday 27 March when their boat’s engine malfunctioned and the motor stalled. As they worked desperately in choppy conditions to restart it and to bail out a small amount of water that had entered the boat, they were swamped by waves – so quickly in fact, that they were only able to make a short call out on a cellphone before they ended up in the water.
They had multiple forms of communication (including a VHF radio) and they were doing everything right, but the speed at which the boat sank took them by surprise. “It took less than 30 seconds for the boat to sink”, said Mohammed.
One of the friends was able to make a single urgent 111 phone call to Police saying where they were before the phone was washed out of his hands by the swell.
Fortunately, all four were wearing lifejackets and were able to stay close to their mostly-submerged vessel to make it easier for them to be seen. Their foam lifejackets kept them afloat in rough water for over 40 minutes as they awaited rescue.
Following broadcasts by Coastguard Radio, local boaties participating in a nearby fishing competition pulled the four friends from the water, after they’d been located by Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Coastguard Air Patrol. The friends were then transferred to the Coastguard Papakura rescue vessel and transported to a waiting ambulance on shore.
Lifejackets save lives – "We had time to grab the kids, and that was it"
Jackie and her partner Damien had made sure the whole family (including Summer, aged 6 and Rueben, 8) were wearing properly fitted lifejackets – but just as they were about to head out, they noticed their youngest had outgrown hers. The family purchased a brand new lifejacket for her before they headed out for a family day on the water – a decision that saved their lives.
Their vessel was swamped by two large waves near Cable Bay, Nelson. As the boat capsized the family had to quickly evacuate, leaving them with no choice but to swim to nearby rocks.
The sinking of their boat was very sudden. "We had time to grab the kids, and that was it," said Damien.
Luckily the whole family were all wearing their lifejackets and not just carrying them aboard – had they been stowed, there’s every chance they wouldn’t have been able to get them. Regarding the capsize, Jackie said, “You don’t know when it’s going to happen; you can be as prepared as anybody” and that wearing – and not just taking – their lifejackets saved all their lives.
Make sure you follow the other key points of the safe boating code:
- Take at least two forms of waterproof communications. A VHF marine radio, a fully-charged cellphone in a waterproof bag, flares and an emergency locator beacon are all great options to make sure you can communicate in an emergency.
- Check your local marine forecast. The free Coastguard App features real-time weather situations (Nowcasting) for locations nationwide as well as marine forecasts, allowing boaties to know what’s happening right now as well as seeing what conditions will be like for their return. Download at coastguard.nz/app
- Tell someone where you’re going. Make sure you log a Trip Report to Coastguard when you head out, using your cellphone on *500, the Coastguard App or your local VHF Channel. This way we know where you’re heading and when you plan to be back and if things don’t go to plan the search area is greatly reduced.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Both Mohammed and Jackie are available to share their experiences. Please contact:
Communications – Coastguard New Zealand
09 303 9355 / 027 325 9515