Shopping bags stemmed sinking

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:58 21/08/2014
Talley’s Marine Rescue Coastguard
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
HELPING OUT: Talley’s Marine Rescue Coastguard vessel towed the launch Pal-O-Mine into Port Nelson yesterday afternoon.
Jonny Leckie
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
BACK ON DRY LAND: Jonny Leckie and Grey after their rescue.

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Motueka boaties Jonny Leckie and Bryan Evans were chugging across Tasman Bay toward d'Urville Island yesterday when water started gushing up through the floorboards of their 10-metre launch Pal-O-Mine.

They had time to send out a mayday call but did not have time to relay their position to the rescue co-ordination centre, as they were too busy bailing out the water with a bucket.

A mayday call was sent from the launch before 8am yesterday after the boat started taking on water, Nelson police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn said.

Leckie's blue heeler-cross Grey, an old salt when it comes to boats, remained calm as the men dealt with the problem, which turned out to be a burst engine intake pipe in the launch, which they bought only a few months ago.

They had taken it on a few shorter jaunts before heading off from Motueka yesterday on the planned fishing trip, that was to have started at Port Hardy on d'Urville's north-western edge.

The ruptured pipe, which turned out to be a length of plastic PVC plumbing pipe commonly used in a house and not a boat engine, was eventually stuffed with supermarket bags to try to stem the water flooding in. "We were bailing pretty hard. We couldn't give the co-ordinates [to the rescue co-ordination centre] because we were too busy stopping the water, Leckie said.

He said it was lucky they had been to the supermarket and stocked up before they left, because they were able to empty all the bags and cram them into the pipe.

Leckie said the only option if they had needed to abandon ship was take to the small kayak they had on board, as they did not have a liferaft or dinghy.

Nelson Harbourmaster Dave Duncan, who assisted the rescue yesterday from the pilot boat Waimea, said when they got there the men were busy bailing out the boat.

"There's no better pump than a frightened man with a bucket," Duncan said.

The Nelson Marlborough rescue helicopter was initially sent to locate the boat, which was found about 10 nautical miles northeast of Motueka, pilot Tim Douglas-Clifford said.

He said a fishing boat and another boat had by then reached the sinking vessel.

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The Nelson Coastguard was also sent to help, which took a salvage pump to the sinking boat and then towed it into port.

Leckie said a boat working on the mussel farm in Tasman Bay was first on the scene. He and Evans, and Grey, then waited on the mussel barge for help.

Duncan said the men were in good spirits and the dog was safe when help arrived. It was helpful having the salvage pump as it was proving difficult keeping up with the flow of water.

The Coastguard vessel and crew towed Pal-O-Mine into the Nelson Marina, where it was hauled out by the Travelift for repairs.

- The Nelson Mail

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