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Published: 2017-02-21 16:50:00

Three boaties tipped into the waves while trying to cross the Kawhia bar today were lucky help was coincidentally quick to arrive, says Waikato Regional Council.

Early this afternoon the men, sensibly wearing lifejackets, were coming back into the harbour aboard their five-metre vessel. They hadn’t done a bar crossing report beforehand which would have alerted Coastguard if they failed to report in after a certain amount of time.

As they came in the vessel was overturned by a wave. Soon after the Coastguard operations centre received a radio call from a skipper coming back over the Kawhia Bar, who had just spotted the men in the water. Coastguard put a rescue craft on standby.

But, despite having to wait some time due to the conditions, the second vessel was able to take the men safely aboard.

The council’s maritime services team leader Richard Barnett says it was lucky, particularly mid-week, that the second vessel arrived by chance so soon after the mishap.

“Otherwise, in the absence of a bar crossing report to Coastguard, those guys could have been in the water a long time and even drowned.

“Good on them for wearing lifejackets but bars are dangerous places and boaties need to follow proper call in processes to help ensure they stay safe.”

People can make a bar crossing report over VHF radio or call *500 on their cellphones. It’s also wise to avoid trying to cross bars at low tide.