Three cling to chilly bin after boat sinks

Three men whose boat sunk off the coast of Whangaparaoa this morning made their first vital phone call not to emergency services- but to one of their wives.

The trio were found clinging to a chilly bin after their tinnie sunk shortly after 8am this morning.

Their rescuers have praised them for wearing lifejackets.

The men were plucked from the water about 6km north of Big Manly Beach, after setting off from Hatfields beach in a four metre tinnie.

Police, Coastguard and Westpac Rescue Helicopter were alerted to the trio's plight shortly after 8am by the wife of one of the men, who had made a mayday call to her.

Attending Westpac rescue helicopter pilot Dave Walley reminded boaties that police were the main tasking force and anybody in need of rescue should contact them first.

"It's not a bad idea to contact Coastguard second but first you should call 111," he said.

He praised the men, who were all wearing lifejackets, for staying near their boat by clinging to debris, including a chilly bin, while they waited for rescuers.

By the time the men were rescued they had been in the water 30 minutes and just the bow of their boat was sticking out of the water.

Rescue helicopter medic Russell Clarke was first on the scene, getting into the water with the men to check on them.

One was winched out by the helicopter and the other two were taken to shore by Coastguard.

Walley said the men were "good spirits" and that the water was warm, and the conditions fine.

"They weren't in any immediate danger," he said.

"Interestingly there were quite a few boaties within the general area but nobody had heard them."

It was unclear why the boat had sunk and men were presumed to be fishermen, Walley said.

A police spokeswoman confirmed the rescue operation and said there was a "happy ending" because the men had been wearing lifejackets.

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