A quiet Sunday fishing trip turned into a near-death experience for three West Aucklanders after a shark ripped their inflatable boat, sparking a mayday call and dramatic rescue as the trio began sinking.
Ella Armitage, her dad Bruce and their friend Shane Phillips anchored off the coast of O'Neill beach, near Bethells Beach, around 8am.
A few hours later Bruce started reeling in a 4ft shark on his line. As the fish came to the surface its teeth, or the hook in its mouth, sliced open the side of the trio's IRB.
The shark, whose species is unknown, then broke free and "took off".
"Instantly the boat was fully deflated. We tried to hold it and pump more air into it but it was going down way too fast," Ella told the Herald.
"We started trying to motor back in but it was pretty obvious we weren't going to get anywhere."
Mayday calls on the VHF marine radio were met with silence. There was no response from Coastguard.
The group then set off an emergency flare. Bruce called police.
They waited for about 20 minutes, soaking and cold in the mid-winter chill. Meanwhile the vessel was quickly submerging.
"We were still standing on it but the chilly bin was floating at our feet and the side that had the hole in it was almost totally underwater," said Ella.
"We all had wetsuits and hoodies but we were a bit soaked. Everything was floating around."
As the police chopper arrived the group set off another flare.
A boat on the horizon heading for Muriwai spotted the signal and came to the rescue.
"They pulled us onto their boat pretty quick," said Ella.
"We didn't lose a single piece of equipment. They took us and all our stuff and towed the boat back to shore."
By this point lifeguards had arrived and hauled the remnants of the IRB back to shore.
Police came to check on Ella, Bruce and Shane and miraculously none of them needed medical attention.
Ella said they are extremely thankful to the three men on the other boat for saving them.
But she said they were "well prepared" with life jackets, extra warm clothes and gear packed in dry bags.
"We were all really calm," she said.
"Dad's been vigilant about making me do Coastguard courses so we had VHF, we had flares, we had EPIRB we had multiple mobiles."
But no one could have predicted the shark encounter.
"This morning I was like, 'Oh yes a quiet fishing trip with dad'. Now we're just like, 'Yes we're alive'," she said.
The fishing trip wasn't a total disaster. They managed to catch a snapper for tonight's dinner before the boat started taking on water.
"Mum's really happy. We get fish for dinner and she's got all of us back safe."
Ella's said she didn't blame the shark.
"It wasn't particularly the shark's fault today either. We didn't want him on the line and he didn't want to be on the line."