Nelson's Coastguard finally gets new rescue vessel

After years of fundraising, the country's busiest Coastguard has finally got a new rescue vessel.

Nelson's Coastguard protects boaties along the largest coastal area in New Zealand and they've been on some treacherous missions.

Sailing the Tasman Sea is an enormous endeavour for even the most experienced of sailors.

David Hows has made the voyage from Hobart, Australia to Picton eight times. One of them didn't go to plan.

"Just as we came around into Cook Strait, our emergency steering failed," he says.

"We had an autopilot that we retained as back-up, we put that in place - 20 minutes later that failed too and we found ourselves in Cook Strait in rising winds and rising seas with no ability to steer the yacht," he says.

They were heading for the rocks and were outside of the Coastguard's rescue range.

"The biggest thought we had was just a feeling of helplessness," Hows says.

But six volunteers in Nelson came to help.

"They left home at 4am, they got out to us about quarter past 7 in the morning. It was a pretty amazing sight when we were out there rolling around in five-metre seas," Hows says.

It was a brutal mission on a small rescue vessel braving these conditions. Now they won't have to.

After years of donations and fundraising, Nelson's Coastguard has a new boat, worth $1.4 million.

"The old vessel has done us proud over 17 years, but this is a major lift in capability," says Coastguard NZ CEO Callum Gillespie.

And it's fitted with luxury amenities.

"More importantly we have a toilet, which we didn't have on the other vessel. Sixteen hours at sea with no toilet is no fun," says Nelson Coastguard skipper Neville Shields.

Hopefully it'll help more yachties live to tell a tale.

"Oh I'm indebted forever to them," Hows says.

Something a sailor never forgets.