Lucky rescue off Marlborough coast

It was a lucky rescue for two men onboard a 50-foot yacht in distress off the east coast of Marlborough last night.

Police were alerted just after 8pm by one of the men onboard the ex-fishing trawler, which had lost power in big swells.

A search and rescue operation was launched in conjunction with Maritime NZ.

The vessel’s lifejackets had been lost overboard in the swell. Police search and rescue co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Peter Payne says the potential was there for the situation to end very badly.

“I started to have some concerns early on in the piece. Given the weather conditions, we couldn’t fly, and you’re really limited in the number of vessels that can head out to assist,” he says.

While Police and the Rescue Co-ordination Centre had a general idea of where the boat was thanks to their cellphone, rescuers did not officially have a location for the trawler.

Typically, helicopters would be utilised in this situation to help with location, but this was not possible in the weather conditions.

“We didn’t know how quickly they were drifting, but we knew there was a reasonable wind,” Senior Sergeant Payne says.

An Interislander and a Bluebridge ferry both responded to the distress call, as did two commercial fishing boats.

Around 9:50pm the Interislander ferry located the vessel, approximately four nautical miles out to sea, and one of the fishing boats towed the stricken boat to safety.

By midnight, it was anchored safely at Port Underwood.

“The pair on board were understandably quite distressed at the situation and very grateful for the rescue,” Senior Sergeant Payne says.

“It was really pleasing to see the co-operation of vessels in the area result in a successful rescue.”

/NZ Police Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.