The new boat Coastguard is raising money to buy. Photo: Supplied.

Coastguard needs help to save lives

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The local Coastguard is redoubling its efforts to raise money for a new $1.3 million vessel after it’s revealed that rescues have doubled over the last year.

Figures released to the Nelson Weekly show that last year Coastguard saved 19 people by pulling them out of the water and had 54 incidents of assistance.

This year, that number has skyrocketed with 44 rescues and 80 incidents of assistance.

“There are just so many more boats out on the water,” says local Coastguard member Wayne Ormandy.

“We really need a boat that can get out there and do the job.”

The current Coastguard boat is 22-years-old and past its prime and the volunteer organisation is in dire need a of a new one.

The organisation has already the vessel designed and its jets are ready to go. All they need is to have the boat built.

Valued at $1.3 million, the new 11.3m Naiad vessel is almost 3m longer than Coastguard’s current vessel and will be based at Port Nelson.

Wayne says the current vessel is too small and injured survivors and crew can face long periods at sea exposed to the elements.

The boat is also old and unreliable with an inability to handle rough weather.

Wayne says they have raised about $300,000 but there is still a long way to go.

He says many people don’t realise that Coastguard is a charity, manned by 25 volunteers who are called to incidents around their normal work day. The first four there head out.

“Survival time in the water is one hour so time is always of the essence.”

The local Coastguard has one of New Zealand’s largest areas of responsibility – all of Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay – from Anatori to Stephens Island.

It is funded by donations from the Nelson Tasman community and provides a maritime search and rescue safety net for those who find themselves in trouble at sea.

“There is no alternative,” Wayne says. “If you get in trouble and Coastguard isn’t around then you are at the mercy of passing vessels. That’s why we need this new boat.”

Coastguard plans to double down on its campaign to raise the funds up to Christmas, and then again in the new year.