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rescue searches Northland

Marine Coastal SAR Sept 2007

Marine Coastal SAR Sept 2007Sun 9th Sept

First one of these was on the Sunday of SAREX 2007 at Whangamumu. Call came in for an overdue boat with several ppl on board. Coastguard, NEST emergency helicopter, two SAR teams from SAREX was deployed with the missing boat & parties found camping.

While the missing party had a cellphone, the did not leave a plan, tell anyone what the were up to & couldn’t be bothered climbing up the track to the ridge above to make a call. Unfortunately a waste of time, resource & money.


Chief: Lives put needlessly at risk

By Kristin Edge

“Irresponsible” boaties put others’ lives at risk at the weekend, says Northland search and rescue boss police Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe.

An investigation is under way into whether one of three people “missing” had been at the centre of another search last year – launched after he failed to inform people about his boating plans.

A full-scale air, sea and land search – costing around $10,000 – was mounted on Sunday in four-metre seas and 30 to 40-knot nor-easterly winds after family members thought two men and a woman were lost at sea after failing to return from a fishing trip.

But the three were found safe at Whangamumu Bay, camping under pohutukawa trees on shore with their five-metre fishing boat anchored in the bay, unaware they had sparked a dramatic search.

The rescue has left Mr Metcalfe fuming. The boat had no marine radio but the three had a cellphone with them, it has been revealed. Mr Metcalfe said they had not bothered to climb to a high point to make a call at the weekend.
A search and rescue operation was launched when the vehicle and trailer they used to launch their boat from was spotted still at Oakura on Sunday after being there since about midday Saturday. The costly operation has left police angry and considering charges.

“I’m angry at the sheer stupidity of these people. They didn’t let anyone know their intentions and their families were concerned.

“In those weather conditions, if someone had been in the water they would have been dead,” Mr Metcalfe said.
“Because they hadn’t let anyone know what they were doing, they placed a lot of lives at risk looking for them.

“I’m bloody annoyed rescuers were put at risk.”

About 60 members of the Northland Land Search and Rescue squad, including police officers and civilian volunteers, were at Bland Bay on an annual training exercise when the alarm was raised over the trio about 9.30am on Sunday.

The Northland Emergency Services Trust helicopter crew spotted a boat anchored offshore at Whangamumu Bay along with two tents.

Two search teams in the area – some members being blown off their feet in the gusty winds – found the camping trio.

Coastguard personnel from Whangaruru and the Bay of Islands were called into action and struggled in the rough conditions with visibility down to 100m.

“Anyone with half a brain would have realised the weather was deteriorating and the sea was no place to be in a five-metre boat,” Mr Metcalfe said.

“For the sake of a two-minute telephone conversation letting someone know their intentions, it would have saved this whole drama.”

Civilian Land Search and Rescue adviser Grant Conaghan said weather conditions along the coast had been treacherous. When he had dropped a search team off at Ngaiotonga Bay on Sunday he had told them not to go near the rocks.

“I was concerned about their safety and the sea was so wild. There were white caps everywhere and the waves were just crashing on the rocks.”

Mr Metcalfe said the “rescued” men and woman were advised to stay put until the weather conditions improved and they could return to Oakura safely.