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Northland Sea Rescues

Northland District Headquarters
Walton Plaza, Whangärei
Tuesday March 4, 2008.

Northland Sea Rescues

Northland's emergency services have had a busy night with three boats getting into trouble in rough seas.

At about 11.40 pm two people on a 10 metre yacht radioed the Coastguard for help after being caught in rough sea off Urupukapuka Island in the Bay of Islands.

The yacht was anchored, but the occupants were concerned that their anchor would not hold and one of them was extremely seasick.

When the Coastguard reached the yacht they could not get close enough to communicate with the people or assist them because the sea was too rough.

The conditions made it too dangerous for the Coastguard to stay near the yacht so they decided to take shelter around the island to wait for better light and conditions before rescuing the people on board.

When they returned to help the boat at about 7.00am they discovered that the yacht had capsized.

The two people, a husband and wife aged 65 and 58 years respectively, were missing.

Police Search and Rescue staff, Northland and Far North Search and Rescue volunteers and a specialist cliff rescue team were then called in to scour the island for signs of the missing couple.

The Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopter was also sent to the area.

At about 9am the couple was located on the island and winched to safety by the helicopter and transported to Whangärei.

The two people were cold and had scratches and bruises from scrambling up the rocks, but were otherwise well.

Previous to the helicopter winching the couple to safety it had taken part in a rescue at Doubtless Bay.

About 3.30am the Coastguard received a call from some people on a 100 tonne fishing vessel that was taking on water after its engines failed and it had drifted onto rocks at the south end of Doubtless Bay.

Once again rough weather prevented the Coastguard reaching the stricken vessel.
There was a three metre swell with gale force south easterly winds.

The rescue helicopter was sent to assist, but heavy rain, strong winds, a big swell and no light made it too dangerous to rescue those on board.
While the helicopter was standing by at Taipa, one man on the boat decided to row a dinghy to another fishing boat in the area.

At about 7am conditions improved enough for the helicopter to winch the two remaining men off the fishing vessel before it sank.

Just as these rescues had come to a successful conclusion another call was received about 9am from two people on 15 metre ketch off the Cavalli Islands.

The yacht's mast had broken and it had capsized.
Police were in the process of sending the rescue helicopter to the scene when a call came in to say the yacht had righted itself and the two people on board had cut the mast free.

They were now motoring into Whangaroa Harbour accompanied by another boat.


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