Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service Incorporated Sea Rider Rescue boat has been 'in the family’ since 1978. All costs associated with the vessel including insurance, maintenance and repairs are carried by the club, and the community has always recognised the value of the service provided by the club and are strong supporters.
Due to a change in the Public Risk Management environment and a lack of policy in the SLSNZ framework, after 30 odd years of service, SLSNR and SLSNZ wanted to exclude it from the club’s asset because it was outside the parameters of the new ruling. This was regardless of the fact that it was the club’s ‘go to’ rescue boat, used in after hours searches and boating incidents, saving countless lives at sea. It started a long and arduous campaign to have the boat recognised and ratified with support from Maritime New Zealand.
Club Chairman Gordon Finlayson says, “we had to make sure our boat measured up in every aspect. We can’t speak too highly of the work done by Leanne and Steve Mabbett Ship Surveyors, Whangarei, who surveyed the boat for the exemption and steered it safely through MOSS (Maritime Operator Safety System) protocol. The Maritime people in Whangarei and Wellington were great. The Harbourmaster backed the club, and local Police Chief Graham Gough was also strong in his support of the club and gave strong recommendation to the registration being granted."
Now with a new lighting system, compass, and additional safety features, the MHVLS Sea Rider falls under the Maritime New Zealand's criteria with some proviso’s, but is fully registered for the duties it performs.
“We are very pleased that our rescue craft can continue its use as part of our club's service, irrespective of the road blocks we originally faced from SLSNZ and the regional office. It's very hard to get a safer rescue boat than this and our men are top sailors in it and in the conditions they encounter off the Mangawhai bar. People just don’t realise how bad New Zealand surf can be. When you’re dealing with the sea there is no consultation and no negotiation,” Finlayson added.
The vessel's compliance with the new ruling sets a precedent for other clubs to now test the regulations within SLSNZ.
n The summer season for the MHVLS Club begins on Labour weekend.