Police criticise yachtie after rescue in New Zealand

Stuff.co.nz. By Laura Walters.

Police have criticised a man for going out on his yacht with no lifejacket after drinking alcohol, sparking an almost five-hour search in Northland.

Coastguard duty officer Mark Lever said the 63-year-old was transferring his 29-foot (8.8m) yacht from Auckland to Whangarei when things went awry in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Shortly after midnight police received a call from the man who said his boat had run into rocks at Whangarei Heads and was sinking. The man, who was talking to coastguard on his cellphone, abandoned his yacht and got into a small 3m inflatable dinghy without a lifejacket.

Coastguard sent out a vessel looking for the man and after an unsuccessful search of the bay, employed the help of another rescue boat. An extensive search of the bay and surrounding areas took about three-and-a-half hours but the man couldn't be found, Lever said.

Eventually, rescue teams figured out the man was not where he thought he was.

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