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Coastguard needs $180,000 to buy new boat

Mar 9th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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PRESIDENT Terry Sampson on Spirit of Wellington, the Coastguard's newest rescue boat.

WELLINGTON Coastguard needs $180,000 for a new boat and is looking for donations.

The Coastguard’s rigid hull inflatable boat, Phoenix, is being replaced with a new $300,000 model, and 40 per cent of the funding has already been raised.

President, Terry Sampson says finding the money is one of his last major duties before stepping down this year.

Mr Sampson says Phoenix is 20 years old, and it’s time for the vessel to be replaced because it has only about five years life left in the role.

The money raised so far is a grant from the lotteries commission, but the local unit still needs to find the rest from donations, fund raising and further grants.

Phoenix and its sister Coastguard craft Spirit of Wellington have  been involved in 58 rescues in the past year, involving 112 people and $1.6m worth of craft.

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Coastguard's Phoenix is being replaced.

Mr Sampson says that the reliability of engines and improved boating education has kept rescue numbers down from when he started 20 years ago, but there’s still a big need for the service.

“People are more aware that they need to carry lifejackets, radios, check their fuel levels, and know the weather forecasts,” he says.

Boaties are better equipped than they used to be, and a national TV advertising campaign has also helped.

He says that the success is also down to the Coastguard Boating Education Services (CBES), which organises training courses for the public.

The Wellington unit was formed in 1968 after 53 people lost their lives in the sinking of the ‘Wahine’ passenger ferry in Wellington Harbour.

This disaster highlighted the need for a life boat service, so the life saving group was formed in Seaview.

Since then the unit has moved to council given land in Evans Bay, where it has a base funded by donations and built by volunteers.

Operating with a full-time, on-call service the unit has two fast response dedicated rescue vessels, called Phoenix and Spirit of Wellington.

Volunteers provide a manned rescue service from the base every weekend and bank holidays throughout the year.

Coastguard called out for Tsunami

WELLINGTON Volunteer Coastguard crew were called in from all over Wellington at 5am, and were out at sea by 7am for last week’s tsunami warning.

The tsunami warning issued to New Zealand after the massive 8.8 earthquake near Chile had the Coastguard on full alert for most of the day.

“It has been the longest, and busiest watch I have done while at Coastguards,” said radio operator Alan Hartfield, from Newtown.

“We didn’t see an enormous wave as we thought we would, but during the day from about 9am the tidal level was surging up to half a metre every 20 minutes or so,” said Mr Hartfield, a veteran of 28 years service in the Coastguard.

RADIO operator Alan Hartfield.

RADIO operator Alan Hartfield.

Their job was to advise people in or on the ocean about the tsunami, and warn them to leave the sea for higher ground.

It turned out to be a mammoth duty for some who put in 11 hours straight, at sea.

Others manned the radio at the Evans Bay Base.

Most volunteers had heard of the tsunami on the radio, and decided to go to the base to offer help.

Stu Marshall, who was the crew skipper for the day said apart from the surges it wasn’t much different to normal. “But you never know what’s going to happen”.

Rescue numbers were as usual as for a normal day, but the unit received more calls than usual with people asking for information.

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