Lucky escape for capsized boaties
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.’’