Lucky rescue for two fishermen

17:10, Mar 16 2014

Two fishermen are lucky to be alive after being rescued by two surfers when their small boat capsized and sank.

West Coast search-and-rescue co-ordinator Senior Constable Peter Jefferies, of Greymouth police, said the two locals, aged 59 and 23, were swept out to sea on Saturday after their 2.5-metre fibreglass boat rolled while crossing the notorious Westport bar to head up the Buller River about 4pm.

Two local surfers spotted them and paddled out to rescue them, hauling them ashore onto the beach north of the river mouth.

"Those people were very lucky that the boardriders were there. They could have drowned if they weren't," Jefferies said.

He understood the fishermen were not wearing life jackets.

Jefferies said the pair had tried to cross the bar too close to the tiphead.

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Greymouth's New Zealand Coal and Carbon rescue helicopter was called out but was not needed.

Initially, it was believed there were more people in the water but that turned out to be debris from the sunken boat, Jefferies said.

The boat had disappeared and was yet to be recovered.

The men were taken for a check-up at Buller Health and discharged.

The Press