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German Man Inflates Jeans to Survive Three Hours in Sea

A man who used his jeans as a makeshift flotation device, after being knocked off a yacht and stranded at sea, is rescued by a helicopter, off Tolaga Bay in Gisborne, New Zealand, March 6, 2019. (Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter Service/Handout via REUTERS)
German Man Inflates Jeans to Survive Three Hours in Sea
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Arne Murke is crediting his blue jeans with saving his life.

The 30-year-old German man was thrown off a sailboat in rough seas near New Zealand.

Murke says he turned his jeans into a life jacket that kept him afloat for over three hours. He was later rescued by a coast guard crew.

The German was sailing with his brother in Tolaga Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand's north island. They reportedly had agreed to take the boat, the yacht Wahoo, to Brazil.

The trip was uneventful until the yacht’s boom turned suddenly, hitting Arne Murke and knocking him in the water.

"Luckily, I knew the trick with the jeans," he told The New Zealand Herald newspaper. "Without the jeans I wouldn't be here today. They were really the thing that saved me."

Murke added that he took the yacht delivery job in order to raise money for his 10-month old daughter. She lives with his girlfriend in the Philippines.

"While I was in the water I was just thinking, I can't leave my daughter behind without a father. That was the biggest motivation," he said.

Murke said he tied knots at the end of the legs and pulled them over water to get air inside. He then forced his jeans under water to trap air and create a life jacket.

A rescue helicopter found the German about 3 and a half hours after he fell from the boat. Images of Murke floating in the water while being rescued have been appearing on the internet.

Chris Henshaw is the Senior Search and Rescue Coordinator for Rescue Coordination Center New Zealand. He said in a statement that the yacht had communications devices, including radio and emergency beacons, which helped alert rescuers. Without these devices, Henshaw noted, "it may have turned out differently."

And that’s What’s Trending Today. I'm John Russell.

Praveen Menon reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

yachtsman – n. a man who owns or sails a yacht

jeans – n. pants made of a strong cloth (called denim)

yacht – n. a large boat that is used for racing or pleasure

knot – n. a part that forms when you tie a piece of rope, string, fabric, etc., to itself or to something else

boomn. a long pole connected to the bottom of a sailboat’s sail

life jacketn. an inflatable device for keeping a person afloat in water

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