Christmas comes early for Cook Strait kayaker swept out to sea

A series of unfortunate circumstances led to a Cook Strait passenger ferry having to stop mid-journey to assist in a dramatic rescue.

A man was rescued today by the Police Maritime Unit on board the Lady Elizabeth IV after being swept out to sea in a kayak by wind and a strong current.

A person was rescued today by the Police Maritime Unit onboard the Lady Elizabeth IV. Photo / NZ Police

The kayaker launched at Red Rocks in Wellington with plans to fish close to shore, police said.

However, his kayak capsized a few hundred metres offshore.

The kayaker was then swept further out to sea by strong local currents before they managed to get back on the kayak.

Police said the man tried to paddle back to shore but the 25-knot offshore wind prevented them making any headway.

From one unlucky circumstance to another – he then capsized again and lost his handheld VHF.

He then managed to deploy the anchor to stop them being swept further out to sea and crawl back onto the upturned kayak.

His cellphone was protected by a waterproof bag, but he were unable to call for help as there was no coverage in the area.

To top it off, his life jacket had deflated.

However the kayaker’s luck turned when a person on top of the hills noticed him struggling in the water and called police.

A mayday was broadcast and the Bluebridge ferry ‘Straitsman’ helped police by stopping mid-journey to assist with locating the person

He was pulled from the water by police at about 3pm.

The Bluebridge ferry 'Straitsman' helped in the rescue by stopping mid-journey to assist with locating the person. Photo / NZ Police
The Bluebridge ferry ‘Straitsman’ helped in the rescue by stopping mid-journey to assist with locating the person. Photo / NZ Police

Wellington Maritime Unit senior constable Kyle Smith said things could have easily ended differently.

“Although the man had enough equipment for his undertaking, a number of things went wrong leaving it up to chance that he was rescued today.

“Police would like to remind people not to underestimate the weather forecast, check your equipment is working and always let someone know what your plans are.”

NZ Herald

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