Lucky es­cape for cap­sized boat­ies

Sunday Star-Times - - News - TIM O’CONNELL

Boat­ies have been urged to show more re­spect for the Waikato Bar af­ter a near-tragedy yes­ter­day.

In his 40 years with the Coast­guard, Richard Udy has be­come used to see­ing ves­sels in strife on the Waikato River or Manukau Har­bour bars.

Some­times, the re­sults are dev­as­tat­ing.

‘‘The last time we had some­thing like this on the Waikato Bar two guys never came home, and they still haven’t been found,’’ he said.

Udy was the skip­per of the Waiuku coast­guard ves­sel that as­sisted in the res­cue of three men whose run­about over­turned near the bar at the en­trance to Port Waikato town­ship yes­ter­day.

The Pukekohe trio spent two hours in the wa­ter, as they waited for help that al­most never came.

The alarm was raised af­ter an­other boatie who had just crossed the same bar spot­ted a chilly­bin about a mile off­shore.

With the help of life­guards from Sun­set Beach and Kariao­tahi, the three men were found and brought on board the boatie’s ves­sel. They were then trans­ferred to the Waiuku Coast­guard boat.

A St John spokesper­son said one of them was so hy­pother­mic he could hardly speak. ‘‘The skip­per said he’d never been so damn cold in wa­ter his whole life.’’

Udy said the res­cued skip­per told him it was the first time he had been caught out by the bar in 30 years of cross­ings.

Kariao­tahi Surf Life­sav­ing Club pres­i­dent Mike Lawrence said a lack of boat­ies on the wa­ter com­bined with a fail­ure to com­mu­ni­cate their in­tent to cross the bar had worked against the men.

‘‘It was lucky a mem­ber of the pub­lic found them as they were get­ting into grief, be­cause if they were the only boat out there they could have been bob­bing around for a while, and no one knew they were miss­ing.’’

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