Murke, 30, was found by rescuers three hours after being knocked off a 12-metre yacht, which he had been sailing with his brother in Tolaga Bay, New Zealand.
The Murke brothers had taken a commission to deliver the yacht, Wahoo, from Auckland to Brazil. However, disaster struck when the yacht’s mainsheet came loose, causing the boom to swing around and knock Murke overboard. For a few seconds, Murke was dragged along beneath the boat after his arm became entangled in a rope, he told the Herald, but he managed to break free. “I was floating in the water not wearing any life jacket. Just my t-shirt, my jeans, that was all,” he said.
“My brother started directly to get me but the swell was like three metres. He threw a life jacket with a rope overboard. I couldn’t reach that, it was already too far away. Then I think the motor exploded.”
The situation looked dire for Murke but, fortunately, he remembered a trick he’d seen being used by US 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 under water – I had like an improvised life vest.” Murke said the thought of his 10-month old daughter, who lives with his girlfriend in the Philippines, kept him going in the hours he spent in the water.
Murke was spotted by a Hawke’s Bay Rescue helicopter, who were conducting a massive search along with the Coastguard and the Air Force.