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Dramatic sea rescue by Northland Rescue Helicopter crew after ship worker hurt

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Striking footage has captured the precision and care of a rescue helicopter crew involved in a dramatic aerial rescue at sea last week.

The Northland Rescue Helicopter crew safely winched a worker from the Majestic cargo ship 37km northwest of Cape Reinga last Sunday, the rescue helicopter service wrote on its Facebook page, along with footage of its successful mission.

The Majestic crewman had suffered a serious lower-leg injury after falling from a ladder, and the authorities were alerted.

“We were tasked by RCCNZ [Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand] to undertake an offshore winch rescue of an injured crewman aboard the bulk carrier Majestic en route from Melbourne to Tauranga”, Northland Rescue Helicopter wrote on its Facebook page.

“The vessel was 300 nautical miles [555km] NW of Cape Reinga at that stage. Therefore, the decision was made to rendezvous with the vessel at 0830 on Sunday morning when it was closer.”

Northland Rescue Helicopter winch operator and critical care paramedic Paul Davis pictured as the helicopter nears the Majestic cargo ship 37km off Cape Reinga last Sunday. Screengrab / Northland Helicopter Rescue
Northland Rescue Helicopter winch operator and critical care paramedic Paul Davis pictured as the helicopter nears the Majestic cargo ship 37km off Cape Reinga last Sunday. Screengrab / Northland Helicopter Rescue

Sea conditions were “favourable” as the helicopter’s captain, Gerhard Pistorious, and co-pilot Peter Scott hovered above the ship so winch operator and critical care paramedic Paul Davis could lower rescue swimmer and critical care paramedic Sara Eivers onto Majestic.

The injured crewman was winched into the helicopter soon after.

“The mission was completed without issue, and the patient was transported directly to Whāngārei Hospital for further assessment and care.”

The incident came a week after three Nelson sailors were plucked uninjured from the water near their sinking yacht 110km off Taranaki.

A sailor is winched aboard Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter during last month's incident off Taranaki. Photo / Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust
A sailor is winched aboard Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter during last month’s incident off Taranaki. Photo / Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

Tasman Bay Cruising Club race commodore Richard Knott — known to his mates as “Infamous Richard” after a series of brushes with danger — and crewmates Raymond Head and Ernst Bowmen got into trouble in bad weather, which damaged Knott’s Raven yacht Cabaret II and depleted their energy.

Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter came to their aid, and it was decided each man should jump into the sea and be winched from there because Cabaret II was bobbing and swinging too much in the 4m swell and 77km/h wind.

Safety first, Cabaret II's captain Richard Knott (fourth from left) says, after last month's dramatic sea rescue. Also pictured are Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter critical care paramedic Jono Sampson, pre-hospital and retrieval medicine doctor Kate St Louis (with sons Archie and Charlie), fellow survivors Ernst Bowmen and Raymond Head, helicopter pilot Simon Owen, and air crew officer Graham “Jonesy” Jones. Photo /  Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust
Safety first, Cabaret II’s captain Richard Knott (fourth from left) says, after last month’s dramatic sea rescue. Also pictured are Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter critical care paramedic Jono Sampson, pre-hospital and retrieval medicine doctor Kate St Louis (with sons Archie and Charlie), fellow survivors Ernst Bowmen and Raymond Head, helicopter pilot Simon Owen, and air crew officer Graham “Jonesy” Jones. Photo / Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

Knott, also a keen skier and mountaineer, had no regrets about calling for help and — for the safety of others at sea — scuttling his newly bought second-hand yacht before jumping overboard.

“To me it’s like climbing a mountain, when you get summit fever, but instead it’s ‘I’ve got to preserve this boat’.

“And it’s like, ‘No, we’ve all got families, and we want to live’.”

Cherie Howie is an Auckland-based reporter who joined the Herald in 2011. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years and specialises in general news and features.



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