Four rescued after night on capsized boat

Four rescued after night on capsized boat

National News

Four people including a child have been rescued this morning after spending all night sitting on top of their capsized boat.

A Waverley family comprising dad (36), mum (45) and son (10) went out fishing from Waverley Beach yesterday (Thursday, 17 December) with a family friend, a man aged 42. They were on a 16ft Stabi-Craft, an aluminium pontoon boat. They were seen and spoken to around 3pm yesterday by people they knew who were out fishing on another boat.

Those same people noticed their car and empty trailer still in the car park this morning around 7am and raised the alarm.

A search and rescue operation was immediately launched with coastguard boats from Wanganui, South Taranaki and Manawatu all mobilised. An RZNAF Iroquois and Helipro from Palmerston North made their way up to Wanganui and a twin-engine fixed-engine aircraft from Wanganui was ready to join the search. Coastguard Air Patrol from Kapiti and New Plymouth and the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter were also on standby. Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (RCCNZ) were alerted and they assisted with determining the appropriate search area. A freighter heading up the coast from Wanganui was also making itself available to assist.

About 9.25am the Wanganui Coastguard boat found the capsized Stabi-Craft around 7-and-a-half kilometres due south of Wai-Inu Beach, and brought the four people back to be met by two ambulances at the Wanganui slipway. All four are currently at Wanganui Hospital. None are injured but they are being treated for their exposure to the elements and are described as stable.

Early information suggests that their boat capsized around 30 minutes after they spoke to the other boaties, meaning they spent more than 17 hours on their upturned craft. The sea conditions were good yesterday but have deteriorated this morning.

Search and Rescue Incident Co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Darcy Forrester said: "These people are very lucky to be alive considering their ordeal; choosing a pontoon boat probably saved them as it is almost impossible to sink this type of boat. Other saving graces were the fact that they were wearing life-jackets and the other boaties who saw them yesterday afternoon were able to give us the coordinates of their last known location. This helped us greatly in focusing our search. It was an excellent team effort this morning with a huge number of resources joining the effort ensuring a prompt response once the alarm was raised."

Police however do want to take to the opportunity to remind people of safety measures to take before going out on the water, especially as we move into the popular boating season.

Senior Sergeant Darcy Forrester said: "There is no doubt that this is an averted tragedy. No trip report had been filed by the boat with the local Coastguard, and no arrangements had been made with family of friends to raise the alarm if they were not back by a certain time. If these precautions had been taken, the alarm would have been triggered last night and their ordeal would have been a lot shorter. A small amount of time can be the difference between life and death in these situations."

Boaties are also reminded to have an appropriate emergency locator beacon on their vessel. The capsized boat did not have an emergency locator beacon system. It did have a radio and flares and police are still to establish whether any attempt was made to use these.

Police will speak to those involved to clarify exactly what happened and if there is any information they have that will help search and rescue operations in the future.

Media enquiries should be referred to Communications Manager Kim Perks on 06 351 2546 or 027 234 8256.

Any hospital enquiries should be referred to Jo Priestley on 0274 900317.