Coastguard Urges Kiwis to get prepared for Safer Boating Week

Mark Morgan was rescued by Coastguard after setting off in his kayak from his workplace toward his Whangarei home in June this year – a trip he had made many times before. However, things took an unexpected turn for Mark when he was flipped into the sea and he found himself alone, clinging to his overturned kayak and fighting for his life. He was rescued by Coastguard after being lost at sea for seven hours in total darkness, cold, hypothermic and in shock - but still alive.

Mark was one of the 7,334 people brought home safely by Coastguard volunteers this past year, and with Safer Boating Week about to launch from 17 – 24 October, Coastguard urges boaties to be prepared before heading out onto the water.

“New Zealand’s weather and marine conditions are unpredictable and constantly changing, therefore skippers must remain vigilant at all times and take necessary steps to keep their boats seaworthy and protect those on board,” says Coastguard New Zealand CEO Patrick Holmes.

Boaties need to remember three simple messages before heading out:

1. Prep your boat – prepare your boat and make sure it’s safe
2. Check your gear – check you have the right safety equipment and it’s working
3. Know the rules – and know what to do if something goes wrong

“They’re simple messages that save lives. On average 15 Kiwis lose their lives in boating accidents each year - this year already 14 boaties have lost their lives at sea. This is 14 too many and some simple preparation before heading out can avoid potential disaster. Finding accurate tide and marine weather forecast information before launching and having two separate waterproof communication devices on board is a good start. It is vital that skippers know the Boating Safety Code and adhere to its five simple rules, including skipper responsibility and wearing and taking lifejackets.” said Holmes.

To help raise awareness of Safer Boating Week Coastguard will promote best practice for bar crossings, and demonstrate how to safely cross the Manukau Bar, a notoriously difficult bar where many tragic incidents have occurred over the years. Coastguard will also join other water safety partners including Police, Maritime NZ, Water Safety NZ and Surf Life Saving to participate in a Wharf Jump in Wellington on Friday 17th October at 1pm.

Coastguard’s search and rescue volunteers answer more than 660 calls for help each Spring, and Coastguard New Zealand are asking for donations to help stay ‘rescue ready’ this year. Supporters can contribute to the cost of replenishing medical supplies, maintaining rescue vessels and patching up rescue gear in advance of the busy season. To find out more or download the free “Boating Safety Guide” which features a simple check list to run through before you head out on the water this summer or visit www.coastguard.co.nz

-Ends-
For more information contact:
Monique Caddy
National Communications Manager
Coastguard New Zealand
M: 021 420 653
E: monique.caddy@coastguard.co.nz

About Coastguard New Zealand:
Coastguard is the charity that provides New Zealand’s primary maritime search and rescue service. The organisation operates from a network of four regions and 70 affiliated units, located around the coastline and major lakes of New Zealand. Coastguard New Zealand is a volunteer organisation with a charitable status. It has more than 2,320 active search and rescue Volunteers who provide over 315,000 hours of their time each year to educate, protect and help save lives at sea. Coastguard performed over 2,840 rescues to bring 7,334 New Zealanders home safely this past year. There are 78 dedicated rescue vessels in Coastguard New Zealand’s fleet, nine air patrol units and one dedicated communications unit. All crew members on board Coastguard vessels and air patrol craft are trained search and rescue personnel working to enhance the safety of all New Zealanders when they participate in boating and water activities.

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