Two men were "minutes away from catastrophe" after their first fishing trip in a new boat went wrong.
Their boat began drifting dangerously close to Napier's shore after its engine died about 5.30pm on Saturday.
Police upgraded their call for assistance to an emergency response once they saw the boat within 100 metres of Marine Parade.
Coastguard skipper Glen McAdam said the crew attached a tow line "in the nick of time" as the boat got as close as 50m to the shore.
One of the crew could see the gravel on the beach from the stern of the boat.
Police on shore had taken off their vests because they thought they might have to rescue people from the water.
Mr McAdam said in another 10 to 20 seconds the boat would have tipped over and the men would have been thrown into the surf off Marine Parade.
"They were minutes away from catastrophe. Whether or not they would have survived . . . those dumping waves would have smashed them to pieces."
As the Coastguard attached the temporary line, the skipper jumped on to the Coastguard boat.
Mr McAdam said the man was lucky not to end up in the water as no-one saw him jump.
"He hit the side of the wheelhouse and it was only the fact that we saw him and managed to grab him that stopped him toppling into the sea."
The Coastguard crew attached a better line once the boat was out of the surf break and towed it to shore.
Mr McAdam said the men had gone out fishing for the first time in the new boat. "They didn't do anything wrong . . . but they should've put the signal out earlier."
Detective Mike Signal said both men were cold and extremely relieved once they made it to shore. They were checked by ambulance staff but did not need hospital care.
The men were wearing lifejackets and had flares available. However, they did not have a marine radio, which could have expedited the rescue, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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