Auckland, the city of sails. Aptly named for its dark blue, watery borders and the swirling wind that drives kiwis and their boats out on to the Auckland harbour.
The Blues pay homage to our city in name and in brand, our Blues logo featuring the iconic Rangitoto Island across blue waters.
Many Auckland boaties have enjoyed our city’s close proximity to the water, but what happens when those beautiful waters turn murky and the conditions get rough? More often than not, it’s Coastguard who will respond to boaties in need.
The nationwide charity has been serving New Zealanders since 1898 and boasts a volunteer crew of more than 2300. Recently, Coastguard Northern Region saw a significant new addition to their rescue vessel fleet.
She’s a purpose built, 15-metre Catamaran that boasts a first-class ambulance bay as well as the latest in search and rescue technology. Their newest vessel owned and operated by Coastguard’s Auckland Unit has already been coined the “flagship” and she’s got plenty of qualities that justify the title. She’s got a 0.85 metre draft, which means she sits shallow in the water and is easy to manoeuvre in tight rescues. And, perhaps most importantly, she’s fast and fuel-efficient.
The vessel named ‘Lion Foundation Rescue’ after its founding funder had her maiden voyage back in March, travelling from Wanganui, where Q-West Boat Builders built her, up and around Cape Reinga to dock in Auckland.
Getting a vessel on the water is just the beginning. Each of the 60 volunteers who crew the vessel needed to be trained on board and any problems needed to be addressed before her first call out, which was three weeks ago.
One of the volunteers is Coastguard master James Turner. This 28-year-old, IT worker has been volunteering for Coastguard for the past 10 years, initially getting involved because he was looking to do something “a little different.” His father, a former Navy man, suggested Coastguard.
Since then, he’s put in a huge amount of dedication working his way through the training matrix and gaining experience to recently earn the highly regarded role of master which means he is in charge of the vessel and manages the crew in rescue missions. Or in his words, “if there’s an incident, and my team are on duty I’m responsible for it.”
And now he’s got the added bonus of working with this brand-new vessel, one that he helped design the electronics for. Already, he’s been involved in two rescues aboard the new vessel, in both cases rescuing yachties.
“The vessel has been a fantastic platform for us and the result of a lot of hard work,” said James. “The fact that the vessel is out there and helping people is pretty special to be a part of.”
To find out more about Coastguard Northern Region and how you can get involved, go to https://www.coastguard.org.nz