Wānaka lakes weekend rescues prompt warning for boaties

by Kim Bowden - Nov 28, 2023

Rescues on Lakes Wānaka and Hāwea this weekend have promoted Coastguard to remind locals and holidaymakers to give their boats a once-over before putting them back on the water for the summer.

Wānaka Lakes Coastguard president Rob Masters says his team of volunteers were called on to tow back to shore two boats that got into trouble this weekend.

"Both maintenance issues," Mr Masters says.

While the boat on Hāwea just wouldn't start, and no one knew why, it was a little more dramatic for the boat on Wānaka, where parts of the battery were fired across the boat during what appeared to be a small explosion.

Mr Masters says because plenty of boats would have been sitting idle over the cooler months, it is important they undergo routine maintenance before being out back on the water.

"Making sure your engine is serviced at least once a year is a good start. Obviously all motors differ in what their requirements are, but just the basics of engine oil, gearbox oil, making sure there's no water in the oil. Our biggest one is fuel. People will use their boat at the end of summer and leave it half full or whatever and that fuel ages."

Old fuel should be swapped out for new, he says, and back-up reserves should be available onboard.

"The rule is a third, a third, a third - which is a third to get you where you want to go, a third to get you home and a third to have up your sleeve in case something happens. And as you know, down in this lakes area, the weather can be four seasons in one day and change very quickly."

Drained batteries can also be a safety issue and if reliability is ever in in doubt Mr Masters recommends boaties pop in a new one to be safe.

Coastguard relies on the work of trained volunteers, and Mr Master says it can be frustrating when call outs are a result of potentially preventable issues.

"Probably 80 percent of our work is tows and just rescues from broken-down vessels. And a lot of it just comes down to people leave their boats down here, they fly in from out of town, or they live out of town and have got a bach here, and come back and just think they can jump on the boat and everything's gonna be hunky-dory next time they go out."  

Wānaka Lakes Coastguard will come to the aid of anyone in trouble on the area's waterways, but it has a non-member call-out fee of $350 an hour.

"Membership costs you $130 a year and that's why I use the word 'insurance', loosely, in converted commas. To be a member you get multiple call outs for the year and 24-7, non-urgent assistance. You get a skippers course you can go and attend if you want to, which is highly recommended.

"It's a no-brainer really. You get access to a trained team of people who are prepared to give you a hand if and when something goes wrong."

Main image (Facebook/Coastguard Wānaka Lakes): Wānaka Lakes Coastguard president Rob Masters says two rescues this weekend are a timely reminder boats need some TLC coming out of winter.



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