The Nelson Volunteer Coastguard needs community support to buy a replacement rescue boat to help meet increasing demand, including from Waimea boaties.
The current boat, an 8.5-metre Naiad bought second-hand, is about 25 years old and experience has proven it too small and lacking essential features, Nelson Volunteer Coastguard vice-president Emmett Mills says.
It is not an all-weather boat, with no fully enclosed wheelhouse, and there is potential in extreme weather for it to be unable to go out when it is needed most.
The size of the boat is a constraint, he says, as there is no space to do proper chart work and co-ordinate more complicated multi-boat searches.
There is also no sheltered space to keep people who have been rescued protected from the elements, with stretcher-borne patients currently transported on the open aft deck – no matter what the weather.
A replacement boat design has been identified and so far about $400,000 has been raised to go towards its $1.3 million cost.
Top of the South designed and a proven performer already in use by Search and Rescue New Zealand, police and the military, the new boat will be 11.5 metres long and be able to handle extreme weather. It will have an enclosed wheelhouse and sheltered areas to treat patients, along with room at the back of the boat for a smaller vessel to access trickier situations.
It would also be diesel-powered, compared to the current boat which has a twin-engine petrol unit, so its range would be extended. It would also have a heavier towing capacity and higher observation points.
The local coastguard’s operational area of responsibility is one of the largest in the country, covering the Tasman and Golden bays, from 12 nautical miles north of Stephens Island, around Farewell Spit to Kahurangi Point on the West Coast.
Emmett says the organisation receives no operational or capital funding from central government, with all its financial needs met through the fund-raising efforts of local coastguard volunteers, sourced out of the communities it serves.
Donations can be made at https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/replacement-rescue-vessel-campaign or contact the coastguard directly.