New Zealander killed in Phuket

Last updated 21:33 25/01/2013

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New Zealand sailor Richard Spraggs has drowned after falling off his yacht near the Thai resort city Phuket.

Mr Spraggs, 59, died in Chalong Bay early yesterday morning, the Phuket News reported.

Police said that during the storm he tried to push a nearby boat away from his yacht, La Zingara, and lost his balance, hitting his head on the nearby boat as he fell.

 He lost consciousness and fell into the water, where he drowned, police said.

"After he fell from the deck, a friend on another boat nearby went to help him and pulled him out of the water, but was unable to revive him," said Capt Chianchai Duangsuwan, of Chalong police.

There was a storm in the area at the time and it was raining heavily, a factor he believed might have contributed to Mr Spraggs' accident.

Mr Spraggs was a regular visitor to Phuket for six years and was well known in Ao Chalong yachting circles.

Phuket Cruising Yacht Club club captain Brent McInnes said Mr Spraggs had been involved with the club for a year or so.

"He was a boat-owning member of the club. He used to come down the place every day - he was a friendly happy guy. He would talk with most people who came in, and he lived on his boat in the Chalong anchorage."

Mr McInnes described Mr Spraggs as a "cruising yachtie".

Last month local media reported that new moorings installed at Chalong were causing problems, with mooring lines breaking and setting boats adrift.

Earlier reports said the broken lines have sent the yachts and other vessels to smash against their neighbours in the bay.

One skipper reported four incidents on December 22 alone.

But despite the carnage, Phuket Marine Chief Phuripat Theerakulpisut says the moorings are safe.

"We checked them before we made them available to the boat owners to use," he said.

Phuripat believed that the fraying lines may belong to moorings set and rented out illegally by local people.

Local yachties also said that the lines were strong enough.

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