A man managed to survive hours lost at sea thanks to a survival trick he’d remembered used by US Navy Seals.
30-year-old Arne Murke and his brother Helge had been commissioned to deliver a yacht from Auckland to Brazil earlier this month, and the pair were in Tolaga Bay, New Zealand, when rough conditions caused the boom to swing and knock Arne into the water.
With no life jacket, Arne had to fight to stay afloat in the choppy water.
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald about the scary experience, Arne explained why his brother couldn’t save him:
I was dragged next to the boat for one or two seconds down in the water, but then the rope got loose luckily, and I was floating in the water not wearing any life jacket. Just my t-shirt, my jeans, that was all.
My brother started directly to get me but the swell was like three metres. He threw a life jacket with a rope overboard. I couldn’t reach that, it was already too far away. Then I think the motor exploded.
Imagine being stuck in the middle of the ocean for two hours without any idea if you will be saved with 2.5 metre swells pushing you from side to side? Well that is what our Rescue Crew attended yesterday. 20 nm off Tolaga Bay, a man had gone overboard from a yacht and through the quick response from our team and other rescue services, we were able to find him. He is so incredibly lucky to be alive.
Posted by Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter Service on Wednesday, 6 March 2019
Luckily Arne’s survival instincts kicked in and he knew he had to take action. The 30-year-old recalled a technique used by Navy Seals, which saw him turn his jeans into a make-shift buoyancy aide.
Luckily, I knew the trick with the jeans. Without the jeans I wouldn’t be here today, they were really the thing that saved me.
I saw it many years ago and I always thought if I ever go overboard without a life jacket I’m going to do that.
I took a deep breath, took out my jeans, made knots at the end of the legs and inflated the jeans; pull it over water and get air inside and then push it under water – I had like an improvised life vest.
Arne explained how although the jeans offered some support, he still had to use every ounce of his energy to survive in the ocean. He described how he thought of his 10-month-old daughter to help motivate him.
The father had taken on the job of delivering the yacht to help raise money for his young child.
The water was breaking over me, and it was getting cold. My legs started to shake. I needed to re-inflate the jeans because they lost a little bit of air, they were twisted somehow.
I was quite exhausted so I went under, but couldn’t use my arms because I didn’t want to lose my jeans.
I was under water and I just thought . . . do it for your daughter. I managed to somehow get the jeans right and floated again. That was one moment where I really thought I might die, if I don’t give all my energy.
Arne floated through the water for around three and a half hours, but thankfully was finally spotted by the Hawke’s Bay Rescue helicopter, which was conducting a huge search along with Coastguard and the Air Force.
The rescuers managed to get a rope down to Arne and get him out of the water.
Showing his appreciation for those who saved him, the German man added:
I really want to thank all everyone who was involved in the search and rescue operation, they did an excellent job and I’m very very thankful.
Arne has said his near-death experience didn’t put him off sailing, but he made it clear he’d be ‘super careful in the future’.
Hopefully he’ll wear a life jacket from now on, but at least he can always rely on his jeans!
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.