Keen fisherman not wearing lifejacket during fatal boat trip
A 60-year-old man who drowned in rough conditions in the Tasman Sea significantly hampered his chances of survival by not wearing a life jacket, a coroner says.
Thomas Michael Angove, also known as Spike, died on January 17, 2015, after his inflatable dinghy capsized off the coast of Waikawa Beach, just south of the Horowhenua town of Levin.
Coroner Carla na Nagara made no recommendations in her report, released on Tuesday, but found the engine on Angove's dinghy must have developed problems before he died.
Angove was not in good health at the time he died. His heart only functioned at 30 per cent of its capacity, he was on a lot of medication and he had a blood clot removed several months before his fatal boating trip.
He and his son set fishing nets about 100 metres offshore the day before and were keen to bring them in the next day.
He and his family went to Waikawa Beach just after low tide. Although the weather was good, the sea was extremely rough with 2- to 3-metre swells.
Another fisherman was at the beach. He said he was not going to launch his inflatable dinghy because he thought it was too risky.
That fisherman and his family were collecting tuatua when Angove made the decision to launch at 7.46pm.
The fisherman could not believe Angove decided to launch, na Nagara said.
Puawai Kaihau wore a lifejacket when he went out with Angove, but said his grandfather-in-law refused one because it was too small.
The dinghy's outboard motor started playing up when they made it past where the waves broke.
Kaihau asked if they should wave to shore for help, but Angove said it was unsafe to stay put so they should try to get back, na Nagara said.
The dinghy could not get enough speed to keep up with the waves and was flipped by a wave from behind.
It flipped back-over-front, with both men thrown forwards.
Kaihau saw Angove struggling in the waves and told him to float on his back.
Angove got on to his back, but was lying on his front with his hands at his sides the next time Kaihau saw him.
Kaihau made it to shore and Angove's body washed up 15 minutes later.
Although a boat mechanic inspected the motor and found no faults, na Nagara said Kaihau's evidence convinced her it did develop problems while they were at sea.
"These problems complicated Mr Angove's ability to get the boat safely back to shore in heavy seas.
"Mr Angove was not wearing a life jacket, which significantly undermined the chances of surviving a capsize."