Two shaken, heartbroken but thankful people were saved from their sinking yacht on Saturday after running into trouble in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.
A distress call was received at 3.19pm on Saturday and by 3.34pm Coastguard Howick had reached the yacht in the waters near Billy Goat Point off Motutapu Island.
Coastguard skipper Chris Young said the pair was a bit shaken, heartbroken and almost in tears as their "pride and joy" took on more water.
"The boat was submerged to about the cabin, certainly the forward deck was maybe shin deep in water," he said.
"It was still going down."
The couple had owned it for more than four decades and are very experienced on the water, Young said.
Two Coastguard crew members went back onboard the sinking vessel to retrieve the couple's car keys and to try to anchor the boat, which was drifting, but the anchor chain got caught under the deck.
The crew then tagged the boat with a buoy in case it sank.
Young isn't sure what caused the incident, but the owners reported the boat coming to a "rapid stop".
"They must of hit something and very quickly the water started to come inside the cabin.
"He's been sailing for over 40 years. Well experienced. Accidents happen to the best of people."
A marine salvage operation has been organised to try save the boat.
"In my mind, there was nothing we could do for the [boat].
"There were a few moments there where heads were in hands. My crew did a great job of supporting them emotionally."
The Coastguard took the couple back to Ōrākei, but not before stopping to help another vessel with a mechanical fault.