12 Aug 2014

Lifejackets weren't fit for use - coroner

10:08 pm on 12 August 2014

Lifejackets on a boat that capsized in the Hauraki Gulf, claiming the life of a Warkworth man, were not fit for use and were never going to sustain life in a major emergency, a coroner has found.

Anthony Preston drowned after the six-metre aluminium boat Mistress he was on with three friends and a teenage boy capsized off Moturekareka Island in 2011.

Coroner Brandt Shortland said on Tuesday that the Mistress had three decommissioned Navy lifejackets on board which were out of service and considered of no use.

He said if Mr Preston had been wearing a lifejacket fit for purpose, he may have survived.

Mr Shortland said it was amazing that the others on the boat managed to survive three-and-a-half hours in freezing and choppy seas and then a night on the island.

Maritime New Zealand said on Tuesday the death is a reminder that boaties in craft under six metres should wear good lifejackets at all times.

Spokesperson Steve Rendle said Mr Preston tried to use a cellphone to call for help, with no luck. He said boaties should not rely on cellphones and instead carry a waterproof VHF radio or a locator beacon.