A man and his dog have been towed to safety by a tour boat after their yacht got into trouble in strong winds on the Waitangi River this morning.
Adam Prendergast, who owns tour company Island Getaway, said it was a "fluke" that he ended up being out on the water and noticed the yacht in trouble.
"Our vessel just happened to be heading through that area when they started waving out for help, so it was a case of being in the right place at the right time," he said.
"My understanding is the boat had started dragging its anchor in the strong winds, and he wasn't able to get the outboard started."
"With the winds as strong as they are, and the amount of current that was moving, it didn't take long until the boat ended up under the Waitangi bridge, and took out the mast."
The boat's mast had become trapped under Waitangi Bridge. Photo / Kerry Boyde Preece
Prendergast said they spent about 30 minutes getting the yacht out from under the bridge, before towing it to the closest pile mooring.
The man was also accompanied by a dog in a dingy, who was pulled along behind the yacht.
"The dog was understandably distressed, but to be fair, he managed to keep out of the way while everything was going on," Prendergast said.
Island Getaway runs several passenger vessels in the Bay of Islands as well as passenger and water taxi transport, but with the boats run by a small team, Prendergast said it was unusual for him to be on the water.
"As much as it's not a common occurrence, we do end up with the odd job helping people out when we can."
The yacht was towed to shore by an Island Getaway tour boat. Photo / Kerry Boyde Preece
Opua resident Kerry Boyde Preece was walking near the Waitangi Treaty grounds when she saw the rescue unfolding shortly before 9am.
"They did a fantastic job of being able to hook up a line and then get the boat out – the mast was really bent underneath the bridge and it fell in the water."
"Incredibly, once you could see they were pulling out the yacht, you could see another little boat behind which was a dog in a dinghy."
She said the rescue had been impressive to watch.
"It was a really dangerous situation," she said.
"I don't know what could have happened, it could have easily gone under the bridge I suppose. It was pretty much wedged up against the pillar of the bridge."
"It was fantastic to see a good outcome, and so lovely to see the puppy in the back. He was a hero as well!"
Strong winds have got other boats into trouble in the North Island today, and the Coastguard had been called to several weather-related incidents in the early hours of the morning.
- by Sophie Trigger, NZ Herald