Two Rescued After Boat Burns in Marlborough Sounds
The Wellington based Westpac Rescue Helicopter was called to Croisilles Harbour in the Marlborough Sounds late last night to assist two people forced to abandon ship after it caught fire.
The helicopter was notified of the "Mayday" call by the Police Communications Centre around 10pm.
Two people were understood to be in a life raft after they abandoned their vessel.
"About 10 minutes before we arrived in the area we could see an emergency flare being fired into the air with our night vision goggles" says Westpac Rescue crewman Jon Leach. "We notified a boat in the area to the flares, and this got them heading in the direction of the life raft".
Just prior to the helicopter arriving the life raft was spotted by the other vessel and the two people were rescued from the life raft and brought onboard.
"The crew was really fortunate that another boat was in the area to assist" says Mike Hall, Westpac Rescue Pilot. "It was quite dark and windy and the burning boat would have been our only reference for winching, which would have made a helicopter rescue very tricky.
Once it was confirmed that there were only two people onboard the boat when it caught fire the helicopter was stood down and returned to Wellington.
25 Years of Westpac Sponsorship of Rescue Helicopters
The call to the burning boat came just hours after two groups of bicycle riders arrived at the Westpac Rescue Helicopter base in Wellington, helping to mark 25 years of Westpac sponsoring rescue helicopters in New Zealand. Cyclists left Kaitaia and Invercargill, from the most northern and southern Westpac branches in the country, nine days ago, and cycled to Wellington raising over $45,000 for New Zealand's rescue helicopters along the way.
"Over 6,000 people have been helped by the Wellington Westpac Rescue Helicopter in the last 25 years" says Westpac Helicopter Operations Manager Dave Greenberg. "One of the main reasons we are able to answer calls for help is because Westpac has been answering our call for help since 1981".