Shocked onlookers at Gisborne-Tatapouri Sports Fishing Club saw a man fall from the mast of a yacht in the harbour basin yesterday afternoon.
The Gisborne man fell more than 12 metres from the mast and landed on the deck.
The incident happened in front of the fishing club after the man swam to the yacht and climbed on board.
The fire service and St John ambulance crews were called to the scene just before 4pm.
St John paramedic Bryan Hughes said the 23-year-old man suffered a suspected fractured pelvis and a nasty laceration to one of his arms.
"He was very lucky. The outcome could have been far more serious," Mr Hughes said.
The incident happened on the yacht Lauren C.
Firemen who attended said there was blood on the mast from where the man had hit a number of mast-parts as he fell.
"We helped St John staff put the injured man on a backboard, then into the ambulance," firemen said.
"They did a great job," Mr Hughes said.
The injured man was taken to Gisborne Hospital for treatment.
"It is not clear why the man was up the mast. It's a mystery and we would like to know why," he said.
Sue Costello, vice-president of the fishing club, said the gates to the marina were locked.
"Witnesses told me the man swam to the boat, climbed on board, then climbed the mast."
The witnesses, who were on the deck outside the fishing club, were not sure if he slipped and fell, or whether he jumped.
"When he fell he hit a cross bar on the mast," Mrs Costello said.
Three men inside the club when the incident occurred said they heard a commotion outside and went to see what was happening.
One of them had a key to the marina.
"We were the first to reach him on the deck of the yacht.
"He was out cold when we got to him, and then he regained consciousness.
"There was a lot of bleeding from his arm injury. One of the guys with me tied the man's jacket around his arm to stop the blood," he said.
"I'm surprised the guy is alive."
The incident shocked those who saw it happen.
"The three women sitting outside witnessed the whole thing and they were pretty messed up," the man said.
"The fire and ambulance guys did an amazing job."
Laurie Colvin, who owns the Lauren C, went to the wharf after hearing of the incident.
"There was only minor damage. There is a lot of pipe work at the bottom of the mast and he missed it all, landing on the deck."
"He is a very lucky man," Mr Colvin said.
"He certainly did not have my permission to be there."
"It was a very dangerous thing for him to have done." he said.
A hospital spokesman said this morning the man was in intensive care after surgery last night.
He is in a stable condition.