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AVOCO Rescue centre-stage in Old4New lifejacket swap
1 February 2017

Boaties and other water sports enthusiasts hitting the waves in Waihi Beach will be sporting new-look safety gear this summer after spending in excess of $15,000 on new lifejackets during a nationwide water safety campaign.

Coastguard New Zealand’s ‘Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade’ van recently paid the beachside community a visit, giving the public a chance to replace in their old or damaged lifejackets with modern, fit-for-purpose Hutchwilco lifejackets at a discounted rate, and also receive advice about boating and water safety.

The scheduled three-hour stop was part of the national body’s highly successful safety initiative ‘Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade’, which has gone nationwide for the first time this summer.

Each summer, the Waihi Beach community swells from 2700 permanent residents to an estimated 25,000-30,000, presenting the perfect opportunity to properly educate and equip people for on the water activities.

Waihi Beach Coastguard spokesperson Jim Pooley says Old4New staff members, aided by local Coastguard volunteers, were rushed off their feet during the three hours – a testament to the popularity and importance of this initiative.

“The organisers estimate more than $15,000 worth of lifejackets were traded in during this discounted period. This is a phenomenal amount as the cost of a lifejacket ranges on average from $60-$90.

“It just shows that the majority of people value the safety of themselves and others when out on the water. A number of people were asking water safety questions, which was great as we don’t always get a concentrated chance like this to spread those key messages.”

As predicted, among the casualty pile of replaced lifejackets, there was the odd salt-crusted relic that should have been decommissioned well before now.

“There were some crazy ones that appeared, including a couple of lifejackets that were past seeing better days. So it was great to have them handed over,” says Jim.

Jim adds it was not just the boating community taking advantage of the event but groups, including kayakers and stand up paddle boarders – highlighting that no matter how you are on the water it is important to have the correct safety equipment.

“Lifejackets are designed to save lives no matter what mode of vessel you have on the water. But in order for them to do their job, you have to take care of yours. It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain and care for their flotation device on a regular basis.

“As lifejackets spend so much time in a harsh marine environment, where they are often exposed to heat, sun and salt, they are subject to damage. That’s why is it vital you ensure they are in good nick by either checking them yourself or by an expert.”

The Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade forms a key part of Waihi Beach Coastguard’s advocacy for safe and enjoyable boating during the 2016/17 summer season.

As part of this commitment, Waihi Beach Coastguard has expanded its fleet with the addition of ‘AVOCO Rescue’, a 5.8m Naiad-designed RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) powered by twin 115hp Yamaha outboards – allowing coverage of the channels and shallow areas of the Northern Tauranga Harbour.

Sponsored by AVOCO, New Zealand’s largest avocado export group, the vessel replaces ‘Search Two’ and is part of AVOCO’s ongoing partnership, pledging an annual sponsorship contribution of $20,000 for three years. 

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