A group of people sailing to Great Barrier Island for an
early morning surf this morning have been rescued by the
Coastguard after their boat began taking on water.
Coastguard Northern region spokeswoman Georgie Smith said
four people on board an 18ft catamaran left Omaha this
morning heading to Great Barrier Island on a surfing trip.
The group came into trouble near Little Barrier Island in the
outer Hauraki Gulf when they encountered seas with swells up
to a metre.
A maritime radio was used to contact Coastguard's operations
centre around 5.30am.
The call was quickly upgraded to a distress call as the four
on board were struggling to keep up with the amount of water
coming on board - thought to be from a cracked hull, Ms Smith
Coastguard volunteers were paged from Sandspit on board Kawau
Rescue and arrived on scene near Te Ananuiarau Bay on the
western side of the Island within the hour.
"Quick work was required to get on top of the water intake
with salvage pumps on board to bolster the failing efforts of
the vessels bilge pumps that simply couldn't keep up."
Three of those on board the catamaran were transferred to
Kawau Rescue vessel where one person received first aid for a
suspected hand injury and two others for severe sea sickness.
The skipper has remained on the vessel together with
Coastguard volunteers who have been working to stem the flow
of water whilst the vessel was towed back to Omaha.
Coastguard duty officer Mark Leevers said it was "touch and
go out there" as they worked to keep the vessel afloat.
"They've got a two hour tow ahead of them so we're just doing
all we can.
"The outcome is a credit to them as they were really well
prepared with lifejackets and additional flotation devices
should they have needed to abandon the ship.
"The fact they had the right gear including reliable forms of
communication meant they were able to call for help and we
were able to respond immediately."
- By Brendan Manning of APNZ