Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ) is asking people thinking about recreational activities on the water to consider if it’s necessary for them to go out while New Zealand continues its heightened response to COVID-19.
RCCNZ Manager Mike Hill said while saving lives remained the number one priority, rescuers could be put at risk by COVID-19 as they may have to ‘burst their bubble’ to provide assistance.
The call follows the RCCNZ-coordinated rescue of a kayak fisherman, a nautical mile (1.8 kilometres) off Motuwi Island (Double Island) on the Coromandel Peninsula.
The man fell out of his kayak, but was able to set off a Personal Locator Beacon. The alert was received by RCCNZ at 11.10 am and the team sent the Westpac Rescue Helicopter from Auckland.
Meanwhile, an off-duty charter fishing operator based on the coast nearby heard about the rescue and launched his boat. He was able to pluck the kayak fisherman from the water before the helicopter arrived. The kayak fisherman was taken safely ashore.
“The charter operator’s prompt actions have saved a life today, but he had to compromise his own safety as the rescue required him to ‘break his bubble’ by getting closer than two metres,” Mr Hill said.
“While some boating activities are allowed at level 3, you’ve got to ask yourself: ‘Do I need to go out and who else might my decision affect?’ We all have to play our part in the fight against COVID-19. Staying home could be the best option for you and New Zealand.”
If recreational watercraft users do head out, RCCNZ reminds them that the permitted activities are only allowed if they follow these conditions:
- Be responsible, apply the Boating Safety Code
- Stay within your bubble (don’t gather with others)
- Don’t share equipment
- Stay local
- Stay close to shore (we recommend within 200m from shore) or on rivers that you know well
- Go out only when conditions are calm
- Know your limits, don’t go beyond your ability or level of experience
- Go out only between sunrise and sunset
Activities that are not permitted during Alert Level 3 include (but are not limited to):
- Use of powered (motorised) vessels
- Jet skis