A group of fishermen had only two minutes to grab items that would help them stay afloat after their boat began to sink in the Hauraki Gulf.

Within 30 minutes of being called out, a combination of the Maritme Police, Coastguard and the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter rescued the three men out of the water as they clung to a chilly bin holding Coke cans and muesli bars with their boat at the bottom of the ocean.

On Saturday panelbeater David Blayney and his two friends embarked on a fishing trip from Hatfields Beach about 40km north of Auckland.

Blayney said the trio embarked on his boat, named Yosemite Sam after the Looney Tunes character, in the morning, heading to a fishing spot.

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Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter locates three male patients in the water after their small boat capsized.
Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter locates three male patients in the water after their small boat capsized.

Thirty minutes into their trip the boat had sunk and another half hour later they were rescued by the Coastguard.

"We were just going out in the morning to go fishing, then we heard some sort of bang, then we saw water coming in.

"It was two minutes and we had to jump," Blayney said.

Blayney said they had hit something on the way to their spot and when they abandoned ship they saw "a hole the size of a basketball".

The trio began throwing out items that floated, chilly bins, coke cans and muesli bars.

Three men were rescued after their tinnie sunk on Saturday morning north of Big Manly, Whangaparaoa. Photo / Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
Three men were rescued after their tinnie sunk on Saturday morning north of Big Manly, Whangaparaoa. Photo / Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

The three friends once all worked in the same place and had remained close since they went their separate ways, he said.

"We'd only been out half an hour, we didn't get very far at all."

They did not panic, in fact, the first phone call was not made to emergency services, but instead one of their wives, Blayney said.

Water that had splashed on their phones meant that they could only access recently used contacts, so a wife of one of the friends was called and then she called the Coastguard.

The men were scooped out of the water about 6km north of Big Manly Beach.

Police, Coastguard and Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter were alerted after 8am.

When the men were rescued they had been in the water for only 30 minutes and only the bow of the boat was above water.

Blayney said he did not feel in danger at any time apart from one of friends who was worried about the possibility of a shark attack.

Despite it being a "freak accident" the group knew what to do and were prepared to stay in the water for hours.

"With the muesli bars and Coke we agreed we would have been alright.

"We just had a good laugh about it, there wasn't a time where I was worried for my life."

The response time in which they were rescued was "unreal", the trio could not believe how quickly they were fished out of the water.

One was winched out by helicopter, the other two by boat.

"It was just a freak accident, we kind of knew what to do."

"Next time I'm going to get one of those beacons and flares."

Reflecting on the experience Blayney said he would probably look at buying a jetski instead of a new boat.