Seven boaties on planned fishing trips ignored repeated warnings
about dangerous sea conditions in Northland waters over the long
weekend and had to be rescued by lifeguards.
A further three boats were involved in near misses as swells
between 1.5-2m wreaked havoc for seagoers, mostly Aucklanders who
headed up north for fishing expeditions.
Among those who were rescued was a 7-year-old girl after a
fibreglass boat she and two adults were in flipped over about 200m
offshore at Mangawhai Heads just before midday on Saturday. They
were lucky that it was the last weekend for lifeguards to patrol
Northland's surf beaches.
Mangawhai Heads surf lifesaving club captain Patria Harris said
the 5m boat's outboard engine stalled before a huge wave swamped
them. She said two lifeguards rescued the child and a female before
another two went in a rescue boat and picked up a male who had
jumped in the water.
Ms Harris said the fishing boat rolled just after the man was
rescued. The rescued were from Auckland and their boat was later
rolled back over before being towed to shore.
In another incident,
an aluminium boat with three males and a female rolled over at the
channel to the Mangawhai harbour entrance.
Ms Harris said the occupants got
into trouble while trying to avoid a wave but were caught out.
Three lifeguards on surfboards picked up two adults and a female
before a surfer got to the other male who had the anchor rope
tangled around him. He was hauled on to a surfboard before
lifeguards pulled him into a rescue boat. One person had a sprained
foot while two took quite a bit of water but none required hospital
treatment. They were also from Auckland.
Ms Harris said a harbourmaster was at the boat ramp at the
estuary yesterday, warning boaties against going out fishing
because of high swells.
"We've had three boats in near misses ... caught sideways or
rolled but were lucky to turn around. The harbourmaster and
Coastguard have been issuing warnings to people but they still take
to the waters," she said.
"They just need to be aware of the conditions before going out
and if they are told not to go, then they shouldn't go."
She said despite warnings, there was about 15 fishing boats on
the water off Mangawhai Heads yesterday.
Lifeguards stopped beach patrols for the season yesterday and
start again during Labour weekend in October.
Elsewhere around Northland beaches, a surfer in his 50s
dislocated his shoulder after he fell off his surfboard off Ocean
Beach on Sunday morning. Another surfer helped bring him to shore
where he was attended to by St John paramedics and taken to the
Whangarei Hospital. Andrew Wright, patrol captain at Ruakaka Surf
Lifesaving Patrol, said Easter Weekend had been incident-free at
"It's been very good. The beach has been packed. We had about
300 to 400 [on Sunday] and thousands over the entire weekend."
- Northern Advocate