Somes Island sinker
On Saturday 11 June, two Wellington boaties went out fishing. Little did they know, they would return to the marina on the Police launch with their boat being towed in upside down by the Coastguard – and it could have been much worse!
The boat was good condition, the owner was experienced and contrary to initial reports, he had both means of communications and lifejackets on board.
So why did the day end so badly? The unexpected happened.
Having done enough fishing and as the weather was deteriorating, they decided to go home. A misunderstanding meant that the burley pot wasn’t retrieved from the water before the motor was started. The rope got tangled around the propeller and both men attmepted to clear it. Both men were at the back of the boat, meaning it was lower in the water. One wave came over the back of the boat, and then another, causing it to sink.
All this was unexpected and happened quickly. When it was clear the boat was going to sink another boat nearby offered assistance and immediately retrieved them from the water.
At first glance, there may seem to be no need to be wearing the lifejackets they had on board. It had been a nice day and they were anchored in a sheltered spot. However when conditions change or things go wrong in a small boat they can go very wrong, very quickly.
Senior Sargent David Houston from the Maritime Police said that as both men ended up in the cold water, the outcome might have been tragically different if the other boat had not been nearby.
On small boats wearing lifejackets is the safest option.
Wellington Harbourmaster Mike Pryce says, "the Regional Navigation and Safety Bylaws require that lifejackets are worn in boats less than six metres long. Not getting into trouble in the first place is obviously preferable, however making sure you can call for help and being able to stay afloat until assistance arrives are equally important if things do go wrong."