Construction will soon be underway on a new, purpose-built rescue vessel for Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard; a vessel that will enhance the ability of everyday volunteers to do extraordinary things – save lives at sea.
Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard play an essential role in one of the busiest recreational boating areas in Aotearoa. Volunteers come to the aid of people across 1,700km2 of harbours, coastline, islands and open water, no matter the time of day or conditions.
Over the last financial year, the 60 volunteers at Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard answered 30,810 radio calls, carried out 219 vessel assists, and brought 550 people home safely. The combined annual hours given to the Tauranga community by the unit’s volunteers exceeded 9,000.
These are not onerous hours for the volunteers, though; they do it because they love it and want to make a difference.
Dane Robertson, Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard’s Operations Manager, says the current vessel, TECT Rescue, which TECT contributed $250,000 to in 2006, is struggling to meet the increasing demands of the area.
“Last year we did 80% more rescues than we did in 2016. Rescue numbers have almost doubled in the last four years. Plus, the restricted international travel due to Covid-19 has resulted in an increase in on-water activity. It’s just getting busier and busier.”
TECT Rescue is 16 years old and, while it is well-utilised, the maintenance and repairs to ensure that it is ready 24/7 have become cost prohibitive. A new vessel is required to keep up with the region’s needs and ensure our loved ones’ safety out on the water.
In April 2022, TECT approved $650,000 in funding to support the construction of a new rescue vessel for Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard, a $2.25 million dollar project.
$750,000 of the funds have been raised by Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard themselves, and they have sought additional support from local sponsors. The build also has the financial backing of Coastguard New Zealand, as it is seen as critical to Coastguard operations, not only in Tauranga, but the wider Bay of Plenty and Coromandel regions.
Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard have been working closely with vessel designer, Teknicraft, to design a boat that will meet their needs. The confirmed design is a 14-metre catamaran that will address the current boat’s limitations and be able to better support joint-agency tasks with greater capacity to transport teams of police, medics and crew.
Dane says the new vessel’s speed and fuel economy will be a game-changer.
“The new boat will get to Mayor Island at least 40 minutes quicker. If you were in trouble, 40 minutes would make a huge difference. It will be cheaper to run, and its cruising speed will be what is TECT Rescue’s maximum speed. So, it will cruise faster and use less diesel doing so. Plus, it will be a bit more workable in terms of its physical layout, meaning safer and more comfortable working areas for crew.
“Underneath, it will have foil technology that raises the hull up out of the water, which will result in a smoother ride.
“We are grateful for TECT’s support. The new boat will have a huge impact and is greatly needed in our area.”
Construction will begin this July and the build is expected to take about 14 months.
TECT Trustee Mark Arundel says Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard provide an invaluable service for our community.
“As a coastal region, recreational use of water plays a significant role in many of our lives. We are lucky to be able to rely on the life-saving work of Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard.
“TECT is very pleased to be involved in ensuring Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard have the necessary means to be able to respond quickly to call outs, and the increased confidence to operate safely even in rough conditions.
“But the real thanks go to the volunteers, whose altruistic spirit ensures that the lives of countless boaties are saved every day of the year.”