No life-jacket boatie an 'absolute clown'

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 09:54 21/05/2012
Dougal Holmes

Footage of the boat being spun around by rough seas before it flipped over, throwing the man overboard.

Brighton boatie
Dougal Holmes
NEW BRIGHTON BOATIE: "This guy is an absolute clown . . . no life jackets, no surf sense, no brain," says eye witness Dougal Holmes.

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A man boating near Christchurch without a life jacket was tempting fate when his boat spun out of control and flipped.

The incident happened off the coast of New Brighton about 4pm yesterday.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand programmes and services manager Dougal Holmes, who lived opposite the beach, said he had been watching the man in his boat most of the day.

The man and his four passengers had not been wearing life jackets.

The boat came close to hitting several surfers, including Holmes while he was paddle-boarding, and almost flipped several times, before the group went onto the beach for a couple of hours.

Holmes went back to the beach about 4pm to watch his son surfing and saw the man had taken the boat back into water by himself.

He captured footage of the boat being spun around by rough seas before it flipped over, throwing the man overboard.

Holmes posted the video on YouTube as a warning to those who went into the water unprepared.

''My biggest concern is people drowning in accidents like that. The water's cold; if he'd been further out, or if there hadn't been people around in the beach, he might not have made it in. It was an act of stupidity.''

Holmes said it was the first time he had seen a boat flip off New Brighton beach, but he had often seen boats too close to the shore and carrying people who were not wearing life jackets, including children.

The man managed to swim back to shore and was helped by several people on the beach.

He was spoken to by police, and Holmes saw other people securing the boat to ensure it did not float further away.

Holmes' wife Deb Bowry saw how close the boat came to hitting Holmes and several other surfers.

''I looked up and just happened to see this bloody boat almost hit him. You could tell he was speeding.''

All boats were required to travel at a maximum of 5 knots within 200 metres of the shore or within 50 metres of a person swimming.

Bowry asked the man, who she believed was aged in his 50s, what he was doing.

He told her he was bringing a trailer over from Purau, near Diamond Harbour, but he was back in the water a short time later, she said.

''He had no idea. It could have been a tragedy really; they could have drowned, especially with what happened in Auckland.''

A man and his son were presumed dead after their dingy capsized near Auckland's Mangere Bridge about 2pm yesterday.

Strangers jumped from the bridge to rescue three children, but the other two people were still missing this morning.

It had been the family's first outing the small dingy, and none had been wearing life jackets.

Watch Dougal Holmes' video on youtube.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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