Waka rescue: Eight plucked from Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour after mayday

Eight people have been pulled from the water after their waka began sinking off Orakei in Auckland this morning.

Coastguard Auckland says a crew rushed to their aid after a distress signal was set off by a local boatie who initially helped pluck the stricken paddlers from the water just before 9am.

A spokesperson said waves caused by the wake of nearby marine traffic had begun crashing over the side of the waka, filling the craft up with water at a rate the crew and their bails could not keep up with.

Coastguard said the waka crew managed to get the attention of the nearby boatie who plucked the group of eight from the foundering waka.

He then sent out a distress signal on VHF Channel 16, which was immediately picked up by Coastguard Auckland.

The crews were transferred onto the coastguard’s rescue vessel, Trillian Trust Rescue, and in good spirits, damp from the wake but otherwise unharmed.

Once on board the Coastguard vessel they were checked over for injury, warmed up and made comfortable.

A spokesperson said paddlers were wearing lifejackets and well prepared for when the worst happened, but it was lucky Coastguard arrived when they did.

The waka crew were a fully trained, well-disciplined group of paddlers who knew what to do in the situation. It was unfortunate they were hit with a bit of wind and wave, but it didn’t dampen their spirits, said Coastguard Auckland skipper Bennett Medary.

“The good Samaritan who reached the group first did a fantastic job of securing everything whilst we got on our way, so when we arrived we took over a situation that had completely calmed down.”

He said it was the combination of the local boatie’s assistance, the waka crew’s preparedness and Coastguard Auckland’s efficient response that this incident did not have a much worse outcome.

The inundated waka was towed back to Okahu Bay by Coastguard.

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