Back in 2016 Coastguard had a challenge. They had developed a national training programme for their rescue crew, but didn’t have the dedicated training vessels they needed to do it justice. Darren Arthur, Coastguard’s Volunteer Training Manager, says that at first they borrowed vessels from other Units but it didn’t quite work:

“Units across the country were very generous with their support, allowing us to use their vessels. However, this approach seriously affected our ability to meet demand and be flexible when required.”


As a result of a partnership between Lotto NZ, Coastguard and Emirates Team New Zealand 26 Protector vessels, first used as chase boats for the America’s Cup, were refitted and reskinned by the Rayglass Premium Restoration Team. These vessels were sent all over the country to Units from Houhora to Dunedin to help Coastguard continue to save lives on the water.

Three of these vessels are based in Auckland and Tauranga to ensure that Coastguard can provide the best training possible, with the same vessels they’d use back home:

“Having three vessels (two in Auckland, one in Tauranga) available for these courses has been a game changer. The other aspect is that they are identical or very similar to the volunteer’s vessel back at their unit,” Darren said.

“We know how much our volunteers value training and development and these vessels have enabled us to provide new and innovative training opportunities on the water.”

These vessels have enabled Coastguard to consistently run deckhand, qualified crew and skipper leadership courses to get volunteers ready for action. Feedback from the Units has already been hugely positive - one trainee commented:

“Keep progressing the block courses. These are great for the units and the volunteers - this has been the biggest benefit to our overall training program the last few years.”



Coastguard’s vision is that everyone can enjoy Aotearoa New Zealand’s waters safely and with confidence and training volunteers and recruits is an essential part of that. Besides enabling this training, these additional boats also acted as back ups:

“One of the benefits to our three CNZ-retained AC36 vessels (ones that didn’t go to Units) is that they can be used as bailment vessels for when the unit’s own vessels are off the water for maintenance.”

These extra rescue vessels came in handy recently when Coastguard Raglan's Gallagher Rescue vessel was offline for annual maintenance and a charter vessel failed to close their bar crossing report. Coastguard Raglan volunteers launched one of the extra rescue vessels and two jet skis to search for a person who’d gone overboard off the charter vessel and activated an EPIRB at 0810. One of the jet skis quickly located him and retrieved him at 0820. Coastguard returned to a nearby beach where the person received first aid and was taken to hospital via ambulance with hypothermia.

It’s clear that training and the volunteer’s high level of skill played a huge role in the rescue:

“Coastguard Raglan’s ability to launch a response in these conditions speaks to the highly-skilled volunteers of the Unit – we’re all delighted to have played a role in saving a life on the water this morning,” said Coastguard Duty Officer Mark Leevers.

Darren agrees, explaining that this is the second time Raglan have used a bailment vessel to respond to an emergency.


To learn more about Coastguard and how you can get involved or support, click here.

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