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Tourist dices with death at Port Nelson

Tuesday 8 Jan 2013 4:45 p.m.

A German tourist was minutes from drowning after going swimming in atrocious conditions in Nelson.

It's believed the man was swimming with his son when he got cramp, but the harbour master says they shouldn't have been in the water at all.

“He was cold, he was wet [and] he had swallowed a lot of salt water,” says Port Nelson harbour master Dave Duncan.

“He was in a very awkward position, he couldn't get up on that boat. Had the pilot boat not been about it could have been a very tragic ending.”

The pair went swimming on an outgoing tide in nearly 100 km/h winds. Mr Duncan says they took unnecessary risks.

“Port Nelson is a very safe place to swim until the conditions go wrong, and yesterday they went wrong and it was pretty stupid, I think, to be out there in those conditions.”

He says yesterday was chaotic; the port was involved in at least five different rescues.

“A lot of the port's resources, time and money were unnecessarily spent. In the event of a rescue we don't regret that, but you have to question why you were there in the first place.”

The bad conditions had been well forecast.

“There are so many warnings going out there for people today and they are just still ignoring them and that's very frustrating.”

Mr Duncan wants people to use their common sense and, if it's rough, to stay out of the water.

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