Distress beacon saves canoeist

Published
22/03/2018


A 57-year-old canoeist had a narrow escape last night thanks to the personal locator beacon he was carrying when paddling off a Northland beach.

The Hamilton man was found severely hypothermic and barely still clinging to his home-made canoe when the rescue helicopter crew found him about 9 pm.

The Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand says if the man had not been carrying a distress beacon he would not have survived in the remote location of Ripiro Beach, 20 kilometres north of the North Head entrance to Kaipara Harbour.

A rescue swimmer from the NEST emergency helicopter crew, out of Whangarei, was lowered to the capsized canoe and the exhausted man simply “let go”, says Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Dave Wilson.

“This canoeist was found just in time. The helicopter rescue crew believed he had been in the water for two hours and had a very close call.

“He did the right thing by carrying a distress beacon. When he was struggling to get ashore through breakers and his canoe capsized, he was able to raise the alarm,” says Mr Wilson.

“He saved himself by activating his registered beacon to alert us of his location. ”

RCCNZ organised for the NEST helicopter and Coastguard crews from Kaipara to respond.

“We urge everyone going out on the water, into the bush, or working in remote locations such as farms, to carry a beacon and make sure it is registered with emergency contact details.”

Registration is free at: beacons.org.nz.