Skipper beaches boat to save friends

By James Ihaka

With no engine, the mainsail torn and three-metre waves smashing into his boat, Troy Marshall had no choice but to somehow guide his vessel into rocks and abandon ship.

Mr Marshall, his girlfriend and two friends visiting from Australia with their 2-year-old daughter, had been enjoying a spot of camping and fishing at Boat Harbour on Lake Taupo when the weather closed in and trouble struck on Tuesday.

"The wind and waves were really getting up and the engine wouldn't work," said Mr Marshall.

"So I raised the main sail but the wind instantly split that in two... we had no steering so I threw the anchor down but the wind was slowly dragging us towards the rocks."

With no answers to his distress calls, Mr Marshall decided to wedge
his 6m yacht on rocks near Boat Harbour.

There the group abandoned ship and gathered themselves in thick bush on the shoreline.

The boat sank shortly after but not before Mr Marshall grabbed an emergency kit containing gas, dried food and a cellphone.

His desperate call was answered
by Taupo police who immediately alerted the Coast Guard and the Youthtown Trust Rescue Helicopter, both of whom arrived about an hour later.

"They had to swim to get to us because of where we were... one of the guys bashed his head against some rocks trying to get to us," said Mr Marshall.

"I can't thank them enough... any longer and it could have been pretty bad, if it wasn't for them we probably wouldn't be alive."

Taupo St John ambulance manager Graham Harvey said the group was well-equipped with lifejackets.

They were found huddled around a fire.

A basket lowered from the helicopter took one of Mr Marshall's friends and the 2-year-old to a nearby beach from where they were flown to hospital, suffering from hypothermia and minor abrasions.

Meanwhile, Mr Marshall and the rest of the group swam to the Coast Guard boat with the help of a rescue swimmer.

He said his boat, still submerged in the lake yesterday, was a write-off.

But Mr Marshall had been sailing all his life and was looking forward to getting back on the water.

- NZ Herald

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