A fishing trip turned to tragedy when a freak wave hit a small boat near Bluff yesterday, leaving one man shaken and cold atop the capsized vessel while his companion drowned.
The men were fishing off the east coat of Dog Island, 5km from Bluff Harbour, when the wave hit at about 2.30pm.
The 4.7m boat capsized and the men scrambled on top to stay afloat.
Passing fisherman John Dick spotted a man wearing a life jacket atop the capsized boat about three hours later and alerted emergency services.
"He was sitting up there and was in good spirits. I was absolutely surprised how good a condition he was in for the time he was on the boat," he told the Southland Times.
"He was pretty shaken and cold and was pretty worried about what I think was his father-in-law."
The survivor told Mr Dick that his 50-year-old companion had also climbed onto the boat after it was hit by a freak wave, but had decided to swim to Dog Island after he got cold and slipped off the boat.
Senior Sergeant Maggie Windle of Invercargill police said the man's body was found by a helicopter near Dog Island.
"The body has been recovered and the matter has been referred to the coroner," she said.
Bluff and Riverton Coastguard, five fishing vessels and two helicopters with night vision equipment were involved in the search.
The survivor was taken to Southland Hospital for observation.
source: newshub archive