4 Jan 2009

Stranded jet skier says wetsuit helped save him

6:39 am on 4 January 2009

A Christchurch man who braved sharks and severe storms after his jetski broke down says without his good quality wetsuit, he would probably have died.

Nathan Maclure spent more than 24 hours at sea off the Canterbury coast after taking his jetski out off the off the Ashley-Waimakariri river mouth on Friday.

The machine broke down and the 26-year-old was swept away from land by the high winds and strong tide.

Mr Maclure survived two severe storms during which he was pelted with hail. He fell off his jetski twice before he managed to rope himself to it.

He believes he was as close as 1km from land at times, but felt if he tried to swim to shore he would have had less chance of being spotted by rescuers.

He was finally found 13km off the coast by a Russian fishing boat on its way to Lyttleton and says he is eternally thankful that the crew saw him.

Mr Maclure was brought back to Kaiapoi by the Ashley-Waimak Volunteer Coastguard and, apart from being exhausted, was otherwise unharmed.

Christchurch police say he is lucky to be alive, but it is not known why no one reported him missing.

Mr Maclure says he was particularly frightened when three sharks, attracted by jellyfish swimming underneath him, began hanging around on Saturday morning.

He says he pulled his feet up and hoped for the best, and the sharks left him alone.