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Setting sail . . . Crew member Gareth Speight stands on the back deck of Coastguard North Canterbury’s new rescue vessel, while fellow coastguard member Dale Riches looks out the window. Also on board for the boat’s first outing were the vessel’s master, Ben Tomes, and Kevin Bryce and Paul Hussey. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

 

By RACHEL MACDONALD

The new Coastguard North Canterbury rescue vessel slipped into the Kaiapoi River on Sunday after a full launch ceremony, ready to assume its summer duties.

It was an exciting moment for the organisation, coming on the back of the post-quake rebuild of its clubrooms, an expanding membership, and a raft of regional and national awards in recent years, including the 2019 Coastguard Unit of the Year Award.

Coastguard North Canterbury vice-president John Thompson said the vessel received a Maori blessing before his wife, Faye, climbed the steps and smashed a bottle of Champagne across the forward bollard.

The christening of the craft followed a big fundraising drive over 18 months, which culminated in the naval architect-designed vessel being built this year by Rangiora’s Icon Boats.

Having a local company take on the project was a great decision, John says.

“It meant we could keep an eye on progress, while the people at Icon went out of their way to make it all run brilliantly smoothly,” he says.

Costing around $500,000, the 8.7m craft is powered by two diesel engines that drive twin jet units.

Its design will provide a high level of safety and comfort for volunteers in extreme ocean conditions.

“It will make a huge difference to our operations here.”