Five people were rescued off the Napier coast after their boat got into difficultly in rough seas on Saturday.

Coastguard Hawke's Bay was paged at 2.30am after a 31-foot yacht nearly 14 nautical miles from the Napier Port needed assistance.

One of the rescue crew, Henry van Tuel, said they arrived at the scene at 3.50am and had set up a tow but 30 minutes later the yacht started taking on water and its bilge pumps were not working because it lacked electrical power.

"It was still a good hour to go before daybreak, the people were exhausted and one had very bad sea sickness and so the call was made to get everyone off.

Advertisement

"One young woman was seasick for three days, she was in pretty bad shape.

"She was our primary concern because of dehydration."

Because of the rough conditions, the coastguard was only able to get within three metres of the boat so asked the people to get into their inflatable life raft and float away from the boat.

"We would have smashed into them if we got any closer.

"The water was really quite choppy.

"There was at least a metre of chop, it was too dangerous to come alongside."

Because it was 4.30am by that point and still dark they didn't want them going directly into the water because if someone went under they might not be able to find them.

"There was a real potential for disaster."

Coastguard were able to get close to the life raft and crew members helped the people aboard.

One of them slipped and fell into the water while getting into the boat but was pulled back in immediately, van Tuel said.

The boat was owned by two of the group on board, a Canadian and German. The others were a woman from Denmark, another from Belgium and a New Zealand man.

The boat which was towed back to shore on Saturday afternoon. Photo / Warren Buckland
The boat which was towed back to shore on Saturday afternoon. Photo / Warren Buckland

The group had life jackets on which made a huge difference to the rescue operation, van Tuel said.

"We're really pleased. It had the potential to be quite a different outcome.

The coastguard was not able to find the group accommodation so they were put up at a rescue crew member's house.

The boat owners located their vessel later on Saturday after and with the help of a private boat towed it back to shore.

"The icing on the cake is they got their boat back," he said.

Anyone going out in a boat should remember to check the weather forecast, have the right safety gear (including life jackets) and have two methods of communication.