Boat recovered after fisherman survives 24 hours stranded at sea

A 61-year-old man has survived nearly 24-hours stranded at sea off Whangamata.

The boat of a man who survived 24 hours at sea has been found.

A 61-year-old fisherman Will Fransen survived nearly 24-hours stranded at sea off Whangamata, after he fell out of his boat on a solo fishing trip.

He had hooked a marlin, put a tag on it and was trying to release it back into the water, where he lost balance and fell out of the open safety rail.

He spent a harrowing 24 hours in the sea without a lifejacket before being rescued by some passersby.

NZ Police confirmed a member of the public reported having found the 12m boat.

It was found around 14 January, off East Cape nearly 200 kilometres away from where Fransen went into the water.

“A boat belonging to the man rescued off the Alderman Islands on 3 January, washed ashore at Waihau bay, Opotiki,” a police spokesperson said.

“The owner has been notified and arrangements are underway to remove the boat from the shore.”

The boat is currently under tow heading towards Tauranga.

Fransen said he was alone and no-one knew he was out fishing. He said he knew he was in serious trouble after he was unable to get back into his boat, the Betty G, and saw it heading over the horizon.

“There were two boats quite early on near me that I unsuccessfully tried to shout to and wave to, they didn’t see me, but I knew as soon as I was in the water that the chances of getting a boat to be close enough to see me and grab their attention, very slim,” he told Radio NZ.

Fransen did not have a life jacket, and spent a difficult night at sea, trying to stay afloat on a gimbal harness.

He was rescued by using his watch to reflect the sunlight to catch the attention of some nearby boaties.

Max White, James McDonnell, and Tyler Taffs were fishing near Mayor Island when they came across Fransen floating in the sea.

“I looked up and saw the boys in their boat and it was not that far away, and I flashed them with my watch and fortunately they saw the flashes from my watch face.”

Maritime NZ Principal Advisor Recreational Craft Matt Wood said the rescue of Fransen showed many were still risking their lives in the sea.

“We’re really pleased Mr Fransen made it home alive, but we urge all boaties to not rely on luck as he did. In that incident, the fisherman was not adequately prepared – especially considering he was skippering alone offshore,” Wood said.

“To start with, he was not wearing a lifejacket and he did not have a personal locator beacon on him. Had he worn a personal locator beacon (PLB), he could have sent an alert immediately that would have been sent to all vessels in the area and he could have been rescued very quickly.”





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