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Sailor Lost at Sea Uses His Jeans to Make Life Jacket: 'They Were Really the Thing That Saved Me'

A man who was lost at sea off the coast of New Zealand said his life was saved by his pair of jeans, which he managed to use as a life jacket.

German tourist Arne Murke told the Herald on Sunday he had to think quickly when he fell into the water after being knocked off the 12-meter yacht he was sailing on with his brother from Auckland to Brazil.

In rough conditions, he was knocked overboard from a boom that swung and hit him around 18 miles from Tolaga Bay, off the coast of Gisborne on the northeast coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Murke described how his arm got tangled in a rope and before he knew it he was floating in the water without a life jacket.

"My brother started directly to get me, but the swell was like three meters. He threw a lifejacket with a rope overboard. I couldn't reach that, it was already too far away. Then I think the motor exploded.

"Luckily, I knew the trick with the jeans. Without the jeans I wouldn't be here today; they were really the thing that saved me," Murke continued, adding that it was a technique used by U.S. 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 said.

"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 underwater—I had like an improvised life vest."

Merke said the thought of his 10-month-old daughter, who lives with his girlfriend in the Philippines, kept him going.

After three and a half hours in the water, he was saved by the Hawke's Bay Rescue helicopter, which conducted the search along with the coast guard and the air force. He is now looking for work in the city of Gisborne.

"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," Merke said.

In December 2018, two fishermen were rescued by a cruise liner after being adrift in the Caribbean Sea for 20 days when their boat ran out of fuel.

The Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas cruise ship found the men between Grand Cayman and Jamaica on December 21, CNN reported.

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