“I have been on the water all my life and only started to use the life jacket 30 years ago, and man alive I couldn’t believe how it kept my head above the water…it saved my life.”
That from an 84-year-old Rangiora man rescued from Tory Channel in the Marlborough Sounds yesterday afternoon.
The man had been staying at his bach and had gone to get some firewood in his dingy.
Conditions were good when he set out, equipped with a lifejacket and a cell phone in a zip lock bag, but the dingy nose-dived on the return home and over turned.
His little dog was on board at the time and got trapped underneath as it all unfolded so quickly.
The man got his dog safely onto the dingy but could not get himself out of the water.
“I managed to grab a rock, was too exhausted to pull myself up so I got the phone out and rang 111,” he says.
He was rescued by Police and the Coastguard and taken to Wairau Hospital.
“I was out in the water for over an hour, I can’t swim and if it wasn’t for my life jacket I would have drowned,” he says.
Area Prevention Manager Senior Sergeant Peter Payne says the man did all the right things and thanks to some great work from the Coastguard was rescued safely.
“Having a cell phone in a water tight bag and wearing a life jacket most certainly saved this man’s life, this could have easily ended tragically.
“Even the most experienced boaties can get into trouble out on the water as conditions change rapidly and as we head into summer I would encourage everyone to take a leaf or two out of this man’s book,” he says.
The man’s dog is safe and well. The pooch curled up in a jacket on board the Coastguard vessel and fell asleep as soon as it was rescued.