Ingenuity and funding from Tauranga’s BayTrust is behind a new smartphone app which Coastguard says will save Kiwi boaties’ lives.
The app is described as a game changer for boaties and Coastguard alike – giving users the ability to log a trip report from their smartphone from anywhere in the country.
“One of our core safety services is taking trip reports,” says Coastguard CEO Patrick Holmes.
“More than 250,000 trip reports are logged with us each year which include information on where the boatie is heading, what time they expect to get there or return, and how many people they have on board.
“This ensures that should anything go wrong while they’re out on the water, we have a solid starting point to enable a quicker rescue.
“Every minute counts in an emergency on the water so knowing where to start searching for someone who is missing can mean the difference between life and death,” Patrick says.
Aware there were around 40 preventable drownings in the Bay of Plenty in recent years, BayTrust brainstormed the initial idea in 2015, thinking an app would have huge benefits to boaties on the region’s coastline and lakes.
Coastguard loved the idea, they say, so the Bay of Plenty community funding organisation put up $100,000 and co-ordinated another $146,000 from other funding bodies around New Zealand to turn the app into reality.
“We strongly believe in this initiative and are extremely proud to see it come to life,” says BayTrust CEO Alastair Rhodes. “Creating safe communities is one of our key priorities and we know how much enjoyment Kiwis get from being on the water.”
Until now, boaties have had to log trip reports through their VHF radio or by calling Coastguard on the phone.
The new app will simplify the process, and allow users to add their boat details, including call sign, and nominate a shore contact who will be notified by text if they are late home and advised to alert Coastguard.
“Safety on the water is everyone’s responsibility,” says Patrick. “The new Coastguard app provides boaties with the tools to take their safety literally in their own hands, knowing that Coastguard has their back should something go wrong while they’re out there.”
In addition to providing trip reporting services, the Coastguard app will provide up-to-the-minute weather, wind, swell and tide information and the ability for boaties to save their favourite spots for quick access and detailed forecasts at the location.
While the app is set to become a vital tool for kiwi boaties, Coastguard is quick to stress that it doesn’t replace all aspects of safety on the water.
“The same rules still apply – take and wear your lifejackets, have a VHF radio as well as the app and speak to Coastguard via your phone or VHF if crossing a bar due to the heightened risk,” Patrick says.
The Coastguard app is available now for $2.99 from the App Store and Google Play.