Waihi Beach’s new rescue vessel to hit the water ‘officially’
Coastguard Waihi Beach’s new vessel AVOCO Rescue on the water. Photo credit – Jamie Troughton Dscribe Media
Coastguard Waihi Beach will officially welcome its newest vessel, the $197,000 purpose-built AVOCO Rescue, to the fleet this month with a public ceremony.
Although the 5.8m rescue vessel has been out on the water already this summer, Coastguard will hold a launching ceremony on March 18 from 2pm at its Bowentown headquarters. The event will include a blessing from local tangata whenua and have Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber, key sponsors and the public in attendance.
The purpose-built vessel is a result of a partnership between AVOCO, TECT, The Lion Foundation, First Sovereign Trust, Valder Ohinemuri Trust and the Western Bay of Plenty Coastguard unit.
AVOCO have pledged an annual sponsorship contribution of $20,000 for three years which will go towards Coastguard’s yearly operational costs as well as the running costs of AVOCO Rescue.
“External funding is paramount to our success. Without them we would not be as well equipped to perform our key role of keeping the community safe when they are out on the water,” says Waihi Beach Coastguard spokesperson Jim Pooley.
“We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support from our sponsors, including AVOCO, of seeing this new vessel come to fruition and take our capabilities to new levels.”
The $197,000 vessel is a 5.8m Naiad designed RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat), powered by twin 115hp Yamaha outboards.
It was commissioned to replace Search Two, a 5.5m long vessel, which since being launched in 2003 clocked up more than 1000 hours on the water, and joins Coastguard’s primary vessel Gallagher Rescue, a 9.5m Naiad powered by twin 250hp Yamaha four stroke outboards.
The fleet expansion means Coastguard now has the capability to cover two completely different areas, with Gallagher Rescue overseeing the Bowentown Bar, one of the most notorious in New Zealand, and AVOCO Rescue covering the channels and shallow areas of the Northern Tauranga Harbour.
Jim says since hitting the water back in December, the vessel has logged 29 hours – a relatively low number despite the Waihi Beach community swelling from 2,700 permanent residents to an estimated 25,000-30,000 over the summer period.
Instead, the vessel has been put through its paces in essential training exercises, with Coastguard crew learning how to handle the new vessel ahead of its official launch.
AVOCO director Alistair Young says AVOCO is proud to be a major contributor to Coastguard and helping provide an excellent, accessible service to ensure all Kiwis enjoy our maritime playground safely.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of this community and every dollar counts when it comes to helping support these fantastic efforts.
“I have had numerous comments over summer from AVOCO members about how fantastic AVOCO Rescue looks on the water and long may it continue.”
Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber says while the Western Bay covers predominantly rural areas and the surrounds of Tauranga city, ensuring the safety of residents and visitors at the region’s popular coastal locations is a core priority for council.
“Sadly, there are times when people get into trouble and need the help of Coastguard to rescue them, which is why council unanimously agreed to support Coastguard’s $20,000 funding application toward a building extension at its headquarters to house the new vessel.
“The northern entrance to the Tauranga Harbour is well guarded by Coastguard Waihi Beach and the Maketu Estuary and Kaituna Cut are guarded by Coastguard Maketu.
“Both these operations are in our district and are in the hands of extremely well-qualified and experienced volunteers. It is essential that their equipment and the rescue fleet are maintained to the highest level.
“We hope that those people who are helped by Coastguard services really appreciate this dedication and life-saving work.”