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Mixed emotions for crew

The last couple of weeks have been a time of mixed emotions for the Hibiscus Coastguard Unit.

Over the last month the Unit have had the largest number of crew in recent years moving through the Coastguard training programme and achieve operational status. This has been a fantastic team effort with trainees putting in many hours in the classroom and on our rescue vessels with support from our skippers, experienced crew and training team.

The number of callouts start to increase with good weather – most relate to mechanical issues. One day recently saw the crew of Hibiscus Rescue 1 respond to a callout to assist a vessel out towards Little Barrier. On leaving Gulf Harbour Marina we were waved down by a small runabout. After coming alongside we found out that they had nearly run out of fuel heading back to the boat ramp and were running on fumes! We were able to pass over few litres of fuel to help the boat get back to the ramp. Then as we headed back to our original tasking, we were requested by Coastguard to divert to locate a vessel north of Tiri that was somewhere on the 40m depth mark with no communications available, and mechanical issues. After searching around the large number of boats in that location, we finally found them. They had an issue with their outboard that had started on their way out that morning but had continued with the fishing trip and when trying to head home, the engine would not start. We towed them back to Manly boat ramp.

Again, we headed back to our original task, the boat out near Little Barrier. Locating the vessel was straightforward this time, a 5m aluminium boat with two people on board. Here we found another outboard motor issue that had begun on the trip out, but again they had continued on their fishing trip and unsurprisingly the engine issue had not disappeared when they were looking to head home. We took them under-tow safely back to the boat ramp at Omaha. That day highlights the need to be prepared, making sure your boat is properly maintained and serviced particularly when it has not been used for some time.

Make sure you have enough fuel on board and at least two means of communication, particularly a VHF radio, and carry and wear life jackets.  Also, a reminder to make good decisions – if you have mechanical issues when heading out, is it wise to continue?
Tips and information is on Coastguard's website, boatiesbestmate.nz.

Sad farewell to former crew member
As I mentioned at the start, this has been a time of mixed emotions for Coastguard Hibiscus. Recently one of our former crew members, Nikki Latham, passed away following a very brief illness. Nikki was a volunteer with the Hibiscus and Auckland units before becoming a radio operator at the operations centre at Mechanics Bay. Boaties across the region, and the country, would have heard Nikki's voice over the radio when making trip reports or requiring assistance. Over her 15 years with Coastguard, Nikki touched the lives of many of us, and countless people across the country, and has been the voice of Coastguard in recent years. Nikki was involved in thousands of incidents and recently took her 100,000th trip report – an incredible milestone for a sole radio operator. Nikki, there is no doubt of the footprints you have left in the sand and the role you have played in Saving Lives at Sea. “Raise those sails and set a course for the wide, open ocean where the stars burn so brightly. Fair winds and following seas”
From your friends and loved ones at Coastguard.