14 Feb 2016

Man in water for six hours after capsizing

7:48 pm on 14 February 2016

A man is lucky to be alive after spending six hours in the water off Waihi Beach last night.

The Coastguard vessel next to the overturned boat.

The Coastguard vessel next to the overturned boat. Photo: Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

Two men, aged 26 and 40, were travelling back from a fishing trip to Mayor Island, when they attempted to cross the Waihi bar at about 11pm.

The seven metre boat capsized, leaving both clinging to the hull. Neither were wearing life jackets.

Coastguard member Tim Watts said as the pair hung on to the boat they were drawn into the harbour and were drawn back out again, as the tide changed.

"When they were passing Anzac Bay they decided to leave the hull and swim to shore. One of them made it and the other kept going," he said.

Mr Watts said the man made it back to shore after 3am and despite being a "bit grazed" from climbing over the rocks, was okay.

Police said the man found someone with a cellphone and raised the alarm with the police and coastguard.

The Coastguard dispatched four boats to find the missing man who was eventually spotted by the Auckland Rescue Helicopter clinging to a 20 litre plastic container just before 6am.

Mr Watts, who was skippering the boat that collected the man, said he looked "remarkably good for someone that had been in the water that long."

He said it appeared the man had mild hypothermia and while he did not say very much, he was very pleased to see them.

The man was taken back to shore where he was assessed by St John paramedics who decided he did not need hospital treatment.

Mr Watts said aside from not wearing life jackets the pair should have lodged a bar crossing report.

"The coastguard monitor the radio 24/7 and if they had of put in a trip report that they were crossing the bar and hadn't closed that trip report, within about 20 minutes we would have been called," he said.

Police said the pair were not interested in talking to the media.