Sailor scooped from water
Regular training and excellent seamanship paid off for the crew of Akarana last week.
The Ports of Auckland pilot vessel helped out last Wednesday after a sailor on a yacht competing in a rum race went overboard.
The St Heliers man, who declined to be interviewed, was left bobbing in the wake of the yacht he was crewing after having difficulty with its spinnaker.
Brent Harsant and Paul Turley were manning the pilot vessel and saw the event unfold. It was a busy night on the Waitemata but they were able to get to the man and haul him on board in just a few short minutes.
Had they not been on hand they say his wait could have been considerably longer and in the heavy traffic of a race night, things might have turned out differently.
A passing yacht threw him a life ring and he was clinging to that when the Akarana got to him.
‘‘One of the yachts was sailing its spinnaker and it broached, and when it broached they lost a crewman over the side. The boat went straight over and he went with it,’’ Mr Harsant says.
With a fleet of yachts all travelling under spinnaker bearing down on the man, they had to act fast.
‘‘He was just a head bobbing in the water and pretty hard to see,’’ Mr Turley says.
‘‘They’re moving pretty quick and if you got hit by the bow it would be all over.’’
They positioned themselves so they were clearly visible, dropped a ladder and heaved him aboard.
Apart from his wounded pride, the sailor was fine. The yacht he fell from turned around and the Akarana pulled alongside to deliver him back.
All marine services crew working for the port do monthly drills to prepare for emergencies.
‘‘In the unlikely event of an emergency we’re on to it,’’ Mr Harsant says.
On hand: Pilot boat operators Brent Harsant, left, and Paul Turley aboard the Akarana. The pair plucked a man from the Waitemata Harbour who had gone overboard while rum racing.