Man survives hours lost at sea - thanks to his jeans

Arne Murke was knocked overboard about 20 miles from Tolaga Bay in New Zealand. File pic
Arne Murke was knocked overboard about 20 miles from Tolaga Bay in New Zealand. File pic

A man has survived more than three hours lost at sea thanks to the buoyancy of his jeans.

Arne Murke, a German tourist, had been delivering a yacht from the New Zealand city of Auckland to Brazil with his brother when they struck rough conditions.

The 12-metre yacht's mainsheet came loose and caused the boom to swing around and knock Mr Murke overboard about 20 miles off Tolaga Bay, about halfway up New Zealand's east coast.

Speaking to New Zealand's Herald On Sunday, he said that he had no life jacket, only his t-shirt and jeans, adding: "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.

"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."

The 30-year-old transformed his jeans into a flotation device, a trick he said was used by US Navy Seals.

He said: "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 underwater - I had an improvised life vest."

He said that, as he lay in the water for the next few hours, he thought of his 10-month-old daughter, who lives in the Philippines with his girlfriend.

After almost four hours, he was spotted by the Hawke's Bay Rescue Helicopter, which was searching the area with the New Zealand Coastguard and Royal NZ Air Force.

On their Facebook page, the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter Trust said: "He is so incredibly lucky to be alive."

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