When Arne Murke was knocked overboard from a 40-foot yacht, he found himself fighting for his life. Luckily, the 30-year-old German tourist was equipped with an unlikely flotation device — his jeans.
Murke and his brother were commissioned to sail the yacht from Auckland, New Zealand, to Brazil. When a loose mainsheet caused the boom to knock him into the sea below, his quick thinking helped him survive the harrowing ordeal. Without a life jacket, Murke remembered a trick he says is used by Navy Seals.
“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,” he told the New Zealand Herald. “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 under water — I had like an improvised life vest.”
Although his clever move ultimately saved his life, Murke describes an incredibly distressing situation.
“The water was breaking over me, and it was getting cold,” he explained. “My legs started to shake. I needed to re-inflate the jeans because they lost a little bit of air, they were twisted somehow. I was quite exhausted so I went under, but couldn’t use my arms because I didn’t want to lose my jeans.”
When he needed the motivation to keep going, Murke thought of his 10-month-old daughter, who is living with his girlfriend in the Philippines. The new dad credits the thoughts of his baby girl with giving him the strength to power through the more than three hours he spent struggling in the sea until he was spotted by a Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, rescue helicopter and subsequently pulled from the water by rope. Check out this video of the rescue operation, posted to Facebook by Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter Service:
“I really want to thank all everyone who was involved in the search and rescue operation, they did an excellent job and I’m very very thankful,” Murke said.
Although he came close to losing his life at sea, Murke told the Herald that he’s not done sailing yet, and that his experience will only remind him to take extra caution in the future.