Mana Coast­guard to the res­cue

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

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.’’

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