Coastguard gets to grips with its two latest jetskis

Raglan Coastguard volunteers Adam Daniel and James Hawken got to put two shiny new jetskis through their paces last week as part of the unit’s regular training on Wednesday nights.

While not top-of-the-range machines, the 1800cc Yamaha VX Cruiser HO Waverunners are “totally suitable for our use” as rescue craft, Coastguard president Wally Hawken told the Chronicle.

The jetskis can do up to 100km/h in an emergency, about twice the top speed of an IRB.

Both of the Coastguard’s jetskis are always replaced after 18 months to ensure reliability, Wally adds. And while Jim Wright Nissan have generously sponsored them in the past, he says, this contract has recently ended and the Raglan unit is now trying to secure another sponsor.

Each ski is typically deployed with a pilot (driver) and pillion (rescue swimmer), and is equipped with a rescue sled. Volunteers are trained in a technique which allows them to kneel on the sled and stabilise the prone patient between their legs, Wally explains. “They are not tied on.”

All operational crew are trained for vessel deployment, whether it be the jetskis or Gallagher rescue boat.

Wally says he’s “amazed” at the calibre of the local unit’s volunteers, who in the past year have assisted 56 people to safety.

There are currently around 20 men and women, ranging in age from their 30s through to the mid-40s, training every week from the Coastguard shed at Raglan wharf. “They have huge flexibility (in what they can do) when we are tasked for a job.”

While the jetskis have a specific sponsor, Wally points out the Raglan Coastguard itself could not stay afloat without the support it gets from the local community, Waikato District Council, Waikato Regional Council and Gallagher Group.

Edith Symes