Lifeguard slams ill-prepared fishermen

A group of fishermen cut off by a rising tide near Port Waikato have been saved in a daring mass rescue. Photo / Glennys Smith/Supplied
A group of fishermen cut off by a rising tide near Port Waikato have been saved in a daring mass rescue. Photo / Glennys Smith/Supplied

Lifeguards are frustrated at the lack of preparedness shown by 10 Korean fishermen rescued from a rocky outcrop at Port Waikato, on the North Island's west coast.

The men were pulled to safety by Sunset Beach Surf Life Savers yesterday afternoon, after getting trapped in four-metre swells and a rising tide.

Those who rescued them say the men had no idea how grave situation was.

Patrol captain Shane Edwards said if they had been knocked into the water, the incident could have been fatal.

"Most of them were quite heavily clothed, with long pants and long jackets, and none of them were good swimmers at all."

His crew swam out to them, equipped with rescue tubes, he said.

"We just put the tube around the person and jumped in the water, swam them over to the little bay.

"One by one, me and four others took them off the rock."

Mr Edwards said the incident illustrated the importance of being prepared, checking tide times and wearing life jackets.

The 10 Korean anglers - nine men and one woman on a day trip from Auckland - became trapped at the southern end of Sunset Beach at 1pm.

As the tide came in, they were forced to swim, with the expert help of Sunset Beach lifeguards, to a rocky outcrop where they waited for help.

The sea was too rough for a water rescue, and the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust was dispatched.

A chopper flew in to winch the fishermen off the rocks in three batches to the safety of the main beach.

Intensive care flight paramedic Russell Clarke said all of the rescued people were safe and well, but cold.

None of them required hospital treatment.

"They were pretty happy to get out of there,'' he said.

"They were cold and wet because they had to swim around to the next bay, but they were all checked out and were fine. There was no hypothermia.''

Mr Clarke said the group either weren't aware of the tide or just how far it was going to come in.

"They got caught out,'' he said.

- APNZ with Newstalk ZB

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