A lifelong love of the water has taken Paul Watson many places around the world and provided lasting memories and friendships but it’s his volunteer work for the New Zealand Coastguard that has taken his love of the ole’ briny full circle.

After recently celebrating 30 years at Rheem, Watson – the company’s Commercial Sales Manager – knows just about everything there is to know about hot water. A familiar and friendly face within plumbing circles, Paul has also been involved in many industry events including fishing trips to Niue, Lake Tarawera and the popular annual fishing weekend at Motutapu.

Paul’s love of being on the water started in the Marlborough Sounds, and after moving to Auckland, Paul and his family were regular fixtures on the waters around the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier and beyond.

Having spent family holidays in the Whakatane District, Paul felt compelled to help out where he could when 2017’s Cyclone Debbie wreaked havoc and caused major flooding throughout Edgecumbe. It was only when he returned home exhausted that he had a chance to reflect on how incredibly satisfying the experience had been that he thought about volunteering. His fate was sealed when his wife Pam read about the Coastguard needing volunteers so Paul signed up at his local branch.

A top bloke who is always keen to help others, Paul has a stockpile of interesting stories from general boating experiences to volunteering at Coastguard where he has been involved in a couple of medical call-outs and numerous tows, jumpstarts and providing general assistance as part of the Coastguard crew around the Hauraki Gulf. As a boatie himself he cannot stress enough to anyone who owns or uses a boat to become a member of the Coastguard, “it provides you cheaper access to call-out services, should they be required” or put simply, it’s the AA for the sea. Being a member also helps fund the services provided by the Coastguard.

Skippers are responsible for everyone on their boat. As well as knowing what safety equipment to carry and how it functions, how to navigate and comply with rules and regulations, it’s essential to understand boating safety and what to do if something goes wrong.

The Coastguard’s 2,300 professional volunteers rescued 7,000 people last year. If you would like more information about volunteering, donating or learning more about safe boating courses go to www.coastguard.nz.