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Skipper of overturned boat did “everything right” before crossing bar

Waikato Regional Council harbourmasters have praised the actions of a skipper whose boat overturned at Port Waikato over the weekend, saying he saved the lives of all on board.

The six metre boat was crossing the bar at Port Waikato about 10.30am on Saturday, 20 October, when it was caught in whitewash and overturned by a wave.

The experienced skipper, from Pukekohe, had ensured all six people on board were wearing correctly fitting lifejackets and radioed Coastguard to advise of the bar crossing.

“He did everything right before crossing the bar and in doing so saved the lives of everyone on board when the unexpected happened,” said council harbourmaster Toby Kemp.

The skipper and his wife, their two teenage children and two friends were able to climb onto the hull of the overturned vessel, which drifted for about 30 minutes before they were rescued by two passing boats. A third boat recovered their personal belongings from the water.

They were returned to the Port Waikato boat ramp, where they were assessed by surf life savers. The overturned vessel was retrieved about three hours later by coastguard and the regional council harbourmaster.

“The vessel has a fixed VHF radio and flares, and there was an EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) on the vessel but they were not able to locate this while in the water. Unfortunately, a waterproof cellphone failed once wet, so they weren’t able to raise the alarm.

“Based on our initial investigations, it’s clear the skipper followed the recommended advice around bar crossings, right down to logging the trip report.

“Had he not done so, it could have been a tragic ending to what had been a successful and enjoyable fishing trip,” Mr Kemp said.

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