Mana Coastguard to the rescue
Mana Coastguard’s main office consists of a cabin next to the Mana Cruising Club.
There are plans to move to more salubrious surroundings, but, as with the eventual replacement of their main launch, timing and funds are not quite there now.
I get set with a crew to take the launch out for a patrol. Amongst the jocularity there is a level of seriousness from Master Grant Porter, as the well-worn safety briefings are gone over again.
Procedures and routines are important to ensure they can patrol without mishap.
Once into open water, Gary Spence opens the launch up to near maximum speed, pointing straight at Mana Island. As dusk approaches on a clear night, with just a slight chop on the water, it’s an exhilarating sprint.
Following a quick check of the moorings the all-clear is given – frequent contact with base is maintained – and we head towards Titahi Bay. I feel privileged to have a seat, unlike the three coastguards hanging onto straps at the rear of the boat as we bounce along.
The only excitement of the evening is when one of the crew spots a furtive figure on the rocks near the entrance to Titahi Bay. The suspicion is he might be collecting undersized shellfish but the lads decide not to call the police.
Gary says there are not too many dull moments and he enjoys the environment, camaraderie among members and knowing you are providing a vital service to the community.
‘‘We’re all volunteers, no one gets paid, but we love it, there’s a real buzz when you help someone. Sure, we do plenty of tows, but there’s also the chance you could be involved in something big. I’ve been out when it’s dark and raining and there’s a huge swell, you can get bloody scared.’’
Mana Coastguard has four masters and four trainee masters.
‘‘We do plenty of exercises and training and it’s all geared towards that expectation that something big is just around the corner. You need to be ready to go and we are,’’ Grant says.
The organisation has 30 operational members but they are always looking for more, says president Peter Fairley. Boating experience is a plus, but not necessary. They have a budget of $35,000 per year towards fuel, maintenance and training, with money garnered through grants and fundraising.
Sponsorship from local people via coastguardmana.org.nz is a huge help, he says.
‘‘We’re a network of people that want to contribute to a safer community; these are volunteers who give their time, it is quite a commitment, but we all work for a common cause and vision. It’s a great bunch of people.’’