Coastguard base lost after electrical blaze
Boaties on some of the world’s most treacherous water are being monitored from an office in the Porirua city centre, after a fire destroyed the coastguard’s communications base.
Coastguard Mana president Peter Feely said about $20,000 of communication and rescue gear was lost when an electrical fire on August 14 destroyed the group’s portacom base on the Mana wharf.
The equipment would be covered by insurance, but without a base the group was unable to do its job - saving lives.
‘‘To be operational and comply with maritime law we must have a base from which we can track and communicate with our vessels out on the water,’’ he said.
‘‘If we’re doing a search and rescue operation we must have the ability to communicate.’’
Porirua City Council came to the group’s aid and allowed them temporary use of the emergency management office in the city centre.
‘‘At least now we are technically able to operate, but there’s a large distance between us and the crew, five or six kilometres, and at 3am it’s not ideal.’’
The group was searching for a new property as close to the marina as possible, he said.
‘‘We’re really hoping some- one may come forward with some space on the waterfront that we could use. We’re definitely open to offers, any offers.’’
The Mana Coastguard covers a large area on the Wellington region’s west cost, from north of Pukurua Bay, over the Cook Strait to the top of Queen Charlotte Sound and back to just south of Porirua.
‘‘We also look after some of the most treacherous waters in the world, the Cook Strait, and Mana Marina is the closest safe port to the sounds.’’
The organisation’s busiest time was fast approaching and it was important they could continue with their work.
‘‘It’s in spring when things get really busy because people have had the winter off and they’re ready to get back in the boat...we need to be ready for that.’’
By the numbers:
* Since July 2015 Mana Coastguard completed 10 rescues.
* Volunteers spent 119 hours on operations.
* Mana Coastguard members spent 1897 hours in training.
* The unit won an award in 2014 for the year’s most difficult rescue.
Peter Feely stands in Mana Coastguard’s destroyed communications base.