Fishermen rescued after Fiordland boat capsize

KIMBERLEY CRAYTON-BROWN AND NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2012
One of the men rescued men the overturned Sharcaree being wheeled into Southland Hospital last night.
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
CHECK-UP TIME: One of the men rescued from the overturned Sharcaree being wheeled into Southland Hospital.
One of the men rescued men the overturned Sharcaree being wheeled into Southland Hospital last night.
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
ON DRY LAND: One of the men rescued from the overturned Sharcaree being wheeled into Southland Hospital.

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Two men were rescued from the sea last night after their fishing boat was struck by a four-metre rogue wave and capsized off the Fiordland coast.

The men on the Bluff crayfishing boat Sharcaree were skipper Troy Johnson and crew member Dan Young.

Senior Sergeant Dave Raynes, of Invercargill, said the boat was travelling about 8.5 knots when it was hit by the rogue wave and rolled.

One person was on the deck at the time, while the other was in the wheelhouse, he said. One was knocked into the water and the other was able to swim out from under the boat.

They were in the water for about 30 minutes before they were rescued.

"They were clinging on to anything they could find in the water, such as buoys.

"[The rescue] was great result for everyone concerned," Mr Raynes said. "They see themselves as being very, very lucky."

Bluff-based Fisherman's Shore Station marine radio operator Meri Leask said she got a call from the crew of the fishing boat Kiri Lee saying they had come across an overturned boat. They could see the hull of the boat but could not tell what type it was, nor could they see any immediate sign of life on board, Ms Leask said.

As well as the Kiri Lee, another fishing boat, the Santa Rosa, was also nearby.

Crew from the Kiri Lee then spotted two men in the water and took them on board.

Te Anau-based Southern Lakes helicopter pilot Chris Green together with St John medic John Lambeth and Constable Glenn Matheson, of Te Anau, took off after 5pm.

Using night-vision goggles, Mr Green picked the two men up from the mouth of Chalky Inlet at North Port and took them to Southland Hospital. Chalky Inlet is between Dusky Sound and Preservation Inlet on the Fiordland coast.

Mr Green said both men were fine and talking.

A family member of Mr Johnson's declined to comment last night on the rescue.

Ms Leask said it was not known what had happened to the overturned boat.

It was too dark last night and more would be known today about why it capsized.

"There was no wind and my understanding is weather conditions were good," she said.

Police notified Environment Southland of the possibility of oil spills from the boat.

A website for Carey Boats says the Sharcaree is 17.71m in length, was designed in 1992 and built in 1993 for a Bluff cray fisherman who still owns it.

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Maritime New Zealand is to investigate the sinking.

- The Southland Times

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