SOS message saves stranded boatie

A man was rescued from a remote beach in Northland after rescue helicopter staff spotted the SOS he had written in the sand.

Todd Vercoe told 3 News he was swept off the back of a boat yesterday afternoon a kilometre north of Rimariki Island, and watched as the boat sailed away without him.

Cold and weighed down by heavy clothes, Mr Vercoe began swimming towards the island.

He swam to the rocky reef and thought he would have better chance of being spotted if he was on the mainland.

"I thought my time was up," he said.

He said he was worried about sharks and was feeling very cold but managed to swim for around two hours to make it to shore.

There he scratched a big SOS into the sand.

Northland Electricity rescue helicopter pilot Dean Voelkerling told 3 News that as night fell the crew prepared to turn back for night-vision gear when they spotted the SOS in the sand at Kaituna Bay.

He said Mr Vercoe was very lucky to be found, and hadn't suffered any injuries in his ordeal.

He was treated for mild hypothermia.


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