Bay yachtie killed

By Kiri Gillespie

A Mount Maunganui man has died while sailing in Thailand.

Richard Spraggs, 59, drowned after falling off his yacht, La Zingara, during a storm.

Mr Spraggs was a member of the Phuket Cruising Yacht Club and is understood to have been a regular visitor to Phuket over the past six years.

Police captain Chianchai Duangsuwan, of Chalong police, told the Phuket News Mr Spraggs lost his balance and fell while trying to push a nearby boat away from his own during the storm. He hit his head on the other boat, losing consciousness as he entered the water.

"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," Mr Duangsuwan said.

Mr Spraggs was reportedly with another Kiwi on board who raised the alarm. Mr Spraggs' body was found about 30 minutes later.

A Phuket Cruising Yacht Club regular told local media Mr Spraggs was a "nice, happy follow".

"He was a happy soul - happy to be retired, happy to live in Phuket. He got along with everybody."

Mr Spraggs had been involved with the club for about a year.

In an online profile he said he was "taking time out to see more of the world and gain more marine knowledge".

Mr Spraggs described himself as a sailor, not currently working, but "dynamic and multi-skilled".

While the new owners of Mr Spraggs' former Orkney Rd home did not know him, neighbours spoke of a "very, very likeable" man.

Phill and Ashlee Griffin had known Mr Spraggs for about 25 years. As well as being neighbours, Mr Griffin had worked with him while Ms Griffin cut his hair.

"Nothing was ever a problem, we all had a neighbourhood watch thing going on," Ms Griffin said.

She spoke of a man who was charming with ladies and "lived life to the fullest".

Mr Spraggs moved from his Mount Maunganui home, where he had a fondness for playing the Exponents and DD Smash from speakers set up outside, about a year ago.

"I could never see him growing up. He certainly knew how to woo the ladies. There must have been something, some magnetism, about him," she said.

Phuket Cruising Yacht Club club captain Brent McInnes told local media Mr Spraggs would visit every day and 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".

Mr Spraggs leaves behind his daughter, former Mount Maunganui College student, Stevie Spraggs.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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