The Waihi Beach Volunteer Coastguard is experiencing another busy summer season on the water, thanks to ongoing support from AVOCO and the grower community.

A more secure funding base for the Waihi Beach Volunteer Coastguard has led to an increase in the number of people volunteering over summer.

There is now a team of 47 volunteers who provide rostered support to the Coastguard unit, significantly boosting the ranks of the dedicated maritime radio team. They communicate with boaties, respond to distress calls and log their trip reports. Volunteers also play an active role in supporting community events at Waihi Beach where the Coastguard is asked to provide a boat for event safety.

Maritime Radio Channel 16 is manned 24-7, with local support available to boaties between 6am and 8pm, via Channel 7.

Operations manager Jim Pooley says having extra volunteers to call on is the direct result of the Coastguard unit’s healthy funding base, in large part due to sponsorship from AVOCO and Gallagher.

“For many years we were operating hand-to-mouth, but longer-term sponsorship is enabling us to focus more on the activities that really matter to boaties, which takes pressure off volunteers having to constantly fundraise.”

AVOCO teamed up with the Coastguard unit in 2016, and this year renewed its sponsorship at $25,000 for three years.

The money goes towards Coastguard’s yearly operational costs of $110,000 as well as the running costs of its rescue vessel named AVOCO Rescue, a 5.8m Naiad-designed RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) powered by twin 115hp Yamaha outboards.

The vessel was launched at the end of 2016, giving the Coastguard the capability to cover two completely different areas. Its larger vessel, Gallagher Rescue, oversees the Bowentown Bar, one of the most notorious bars in New Zealand, while AVOCO Rescue is used to protect the channels and shallow areas of the Northern Tauranga Harbour.

AVOCO’s marketing and communications manager, Steve Trickett, says the sponsorship is  an effective way for AVOCO to give back to its community.

“We know many of our growers are fishing and boating enthusiasts and enjoy being on the water.

“We also know that the population at Waihi Beach swells over summer, putting extra pressure on the Coastguard service. The addition of AVOCO Rescue means volunteers can cover a wider off-shore area more effectively, and that’s great news for everyone.”

On December 26, the Coastguard supported the Old4New lifejacket campaign at Bowentown Boating and Sports Fishing Club. Between 8am and 12pm, people traded in their old, worn lifejackets for discounted new ones.

In March, the unit is also benefitting from The Fox – Fishing and Golf Festival, a three-day charity event at Waihi Beach hosted by New Zealand golfer Ryan Fox and other sports personalities.