Hamilton, January 4, 2024
A man has been saved after spending 23.5 hours in the water at sea off Whangamatā, using the reflection from his wristwatch to catch the attention of three fishermen.
Details of Incident
The man set off on a solo fishing trip on January 2, 2024, aboard his 40-foot boat, intending to return the following day. Near the Alderman Islands, he hooked what he suspects was a marlin, before falling overboard some 30 nautical miles (55km) off the North Island.
Unable to catch the idling boat as it meandered further out of reach, the man attempted to swim to the Alderman Islands but was dragged away by the currents.
Whangamatā Police Sergeant Will Hamilton said, “He endured a cold night in the ocean, too exhausted to keep swimming. During his time in the water, even a shark came to “have a sniff”, before leaving.”
“Incredibly, at about 2 pm on Wednesday, three fishermen were on a boat near Mayor Island when they noticed an unusual reflection on the water. They decided to investigate and discovered a fellow fisherman, desperately trying to get their attention using the reflection of the sun on his watch.”
The trio plucked him from the water, immediately alerted the Police and set course for Whangamatā Marina. It was the quick thinking that saved the fisherman by drawing the attention of the people on the boat, giving a positive conclusion to the story.
A positive outcome
Sergeant Hamilton said, “It is an absolute miracle the fisherman is still alive after the ordeal. Without the quick actions of the three gentlemen who retrieved him, this certainly would have had a tragic outcome.”
“The boaties did an absolutely stellar job and without a doubt saved this man’s life,” he said.
The man was hypothermic and exhausted when he was returned to land, where a St John ambulance crew was waiting to treat him.
In a note to the Police, the man said he wanted to go on record to thank Mike, Tyler and James for rescuing him, along with all the emergency services involved.
The Rescue Co-ordination Centre has been advised of the last-known direction, fuel on board and speed, so navigation warnings can be issued to locate the fisherman’s boat, which has not yet been located. All boats are asked to report any sightings of empty-powered vessels.
Few stories end the way this one did, and Police cannot thank the eagle-eyed trio enough for making the call to investigate something that looked out of the ordinary.
Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.