Coastguard volunteers bring over 7,330 people home safely each year. Steve, Terry and Colin were three of those people after a boating accident left them lost at sea in the Firth of Thames for nine hours in January this year. The three men were left submerged in the churning sea, clinging to their slippery, upturned aluminium hull in complete shock and disbelief. They were flipped out so quickly they didn’t even realise what had happened and found themselves struggling for their lives in churning seas surrounded by scattered debris from their boat.
“We’d been lost at sea for about eight hours, we were in total darkness, our bodies were freezing and numb. We saw vehicle headlights in the distance across the water, it was a car travelling on the coast road. We wondered if those people in that car had any idea of the peril we were in… all sorts of things were going through our minds. For the first two hours we tried to keep each other’s spirits up. Then the next few hours fell silent as we were engulfed in our own thoughts, terrified of what our fate might be.” said Terry.
“We can’t find the words to describe the gratitude and thanks we feel for our rescuers and our wives who raised the alarm. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them. No one ever expects it to happen to them. We are lucky to be alive and we have been eternally thankful every single day since the accident.” said Terry.
This is just one of the 2,800 rescues that 2,326 Coastguard volunteers carry out each year, and May sees the beginning of Coastguard’s annual MayDay appeal, calling for donations to help volunteers continue to save lives at sea such as Steve, Terry and Colin’s.
“Coastguard is a charity and only receives 15 percent of its funds from the government. The remaining 85 percent comes from supportive organisations and individuals who recognise the importance of our work. MayDay is an important component of our fundraising stream and we rely on public donations so we can continue saving lives at sea. We’re urging the public to support the vital service we provide by donating at coastguard.co.nz.” says Patrick Holmes, CEO, Coastguard New Zealand.
“It’s vital to our organisation to raise awareness of the work we do. This year we’re extremely grateful to have Sir Graham Henry on board again as our official ambassador. He’s a keen boatie himself and a great advocate for safer boating. You’ll be seeing Graham around the traps, spreading our message and encouraging the public of New Zealand to get behind Coastguard this MayDay.” he continued.
“Coastguard is a charity made up of great volunteers. They’re generous kiwis that have day jobs just like you and I giving up their time to save lives at sea. Coastguard is a great organisation doing great things to keep kiwis safe on the water. I really hope New Zealanders get behind this great cause and make a donation this MayDay.” said Graham Henry.
Coastguard’s annual MayDay appeal kicks off on May 1st and runs through to May 31st. Coastguard units around the country will be out in force raising awareness and collecting donations for Coastguard.