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Published: 2010-12-16 00:00:00

A kayak and paddle found floating in the middle of the notorious Raglan bar last Sunday morning resulted in an unnecessary and costly search effort. 

The search could easily have been avoided if the kayak owner had followed vessel identification rules from Environment Waikato’s navigation safety bylaw. In force since 1 July 2010, the rules require smaller vessels to have emergency contact details and/or the owner’s name or contact details marked somewhere on or in the craft.

A member of the public spotted the unoccupied kayak floating in the middle of the Raglan bar, and raised the alarm at 6.30am on Sunday morning. Only a first name could be found on the paddle. 

The ensuing search involved two Coastguard vessels, four Surf Life Saving inflatable rescue boats, the police, Hamilton’s Westpac Helicopter and Coastguard’s air rescue unit. Staff from the Wellington rescue coordination centre and the Coastguard coordination centre and more than 30 volunteers were also involved.

At 10am, after it was confirmed that the kayak had in fact been washed off the beach at Raglan, where it had not been properly secured, the search was called off.

“This is a timely reminder to kayakers and dinghy owners to clearly mark their vessels with a name or contact details. This makes it easier to identify vessels needing assistance.” said Environment Waikato’s compliance and education manager Rob Dragten. “People should also ensure their boats are properly secured when not in use, to avoid unfortunate incidents like this one.”

The potential penalty for failing to observe the identification rules is $200. More details on the rules are available on Environment Waikato’s website www.ew.govt.nz/boatname.