Lifejackets save boaties after their boat crashes off a sandbar near Pukehina CoastWednesday, 1 January 2020
A Surf Lifesaving Lifeguard said four boaties are "extremely lucky" to be safe after their boat flipped on Tuesday afternoon. Photo / File
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Four people will safety see the beginning of 2020 tonight, after their lifejackets let them stay afloat following a boat crash off the Bay of Plenty coastline.
Lifeguard Andrew Calloway was watching a boat attempt to cross a sandbar off the Pukehina coast this afternoon when it flipped in the waves and threw all four passengers aboard into the water.
Instantly reacting, he and another lifeguard "boosted out" in an inflatable rescue boat from their Pukehina club to the stranded passengers, around 500m away.
"Fortunately, they were all wearing lifejackets, so thumbs up to the passengers," Calloway said.
Dragging them aboard their boat, the lifeguard returned the stranded four ashore, before calling the Coastguard to salvage the floating boat.
One of the rescued suffered a laceration to the foot and all were pretty shaken up, but Calloway said it could have been much worse.
"They were extremely lucky. It just goes to show that wearing lifejackets really works."
Calloway estimated that the four were only bobbing about in the water for five minutes and said they were "very grateful" to their rescuers.
Those aboard were inexperienced and didn't know the area well, he said.
The boat flipped just at 2pm, just after low tide and there was not enough water across the sandbar for a boat to safely pass it.
"The bar itself is very treacherous and for inexperienced people to come here on holiday, without that local knowledge they're going to get themselves into trouble.
"It's extremely important to wear lifejackets, it's extremely important to know the local conditions and it's extremely important to know how sandbars work and be experienced across them."
He recommended boaties to have Coastguard lessons on crossing sandbars and in other sea conditions.
Calloway praised the quick response of the Coastguard and said the rescue, which was not uncommon in the area, showed the wide range of critical events lifeguards respond to.
"Our job is not just solely restricted to beach work, it is also this type of thing we respond to."
This article was originally published in the NZ Herald on December 31, 2019.