Bruce Goodwin still has flashbacks of the fatal yacht sinking he survived off Northland’s coast just over two years ago.
The tiniest things – a word or movement – can trigger memories of the tragedy that took the life of his friend and left him traumatised.
But the Waihī Beach resident has found little things like mowing the lawn and seeing his family have helped him work through what happened.
That’s his advice for the five survivors of the sinking of charter fishing boat Enchanter, which took five lives, as they begin the process of recovery.
“Connect with family and enjoy the little things.”
The fishing boat sank with 10 on board off the coast of Northland’s North Cape about 11pm on Sunday.
A little further south, just east of Cape Brett, was where sailing yacht Essence came to grief in wild seas on October 14, 2019.
Bruce Goodwin was sailing with Tauranga skipper Stuart Pedersen and his wife Pamela, and her brother-in-law Steve Newman.
The group was forced to abandon the sinking vessel and dive into the turbulent water.
Grasping to stay afloat using a Dan Buoy floatation device – their liferaft was sucked through a window – the group was eventually rescued.
Pamela was critically injured. Stuart did not survive.
Goodwin said yesterday he still has flashbacks to what happened.
“It had an absolute immense impact and it still does, day to day, now,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said the survivors of the Enchanter sinking “will have to wade through recovery in their own way”.
Ten people were on board the fishing charter vessel when it sank.
The bodies of five people have been recovered, the last just yesterday.
Another five, including experienced skipper Lance Goodhew – well-known in Whakatāne charter fishing circles – survived thanks to a daring helicopter rescue.
“They will have all sorts of different situations to cope with and get through,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin battled post-traumatic stress and still struggled with a sense of disbelief that he survived.
“It was just immense because to have been through something like that, and survive, I just shake my head. It’s unbelievable,” Goodwin said.
“I’ve had a lifetime of really good mental health, until that incident. It’s affected me mentally, post-traumatic stress, and it still does. But we are getting there, getting back to life and enjoying life.”
Goodwin said he found connecting with family and friends “got me through and [they] were always there”.
He hoped the Enchanter survivors would be able to find support with their families as soon as they were able, to help them recover from the horror of their experience.
“For me, after the incident, it was important to get home and give everyone a hug. Then it was getting back to life – mowing the lawns, little things like that that I’d normally be doing.”
About six months later, Goodwin travelled to Auckland and Northland to say “thank you” to his rescuers.
“That really helped.”
But there were still moments every day that snapped Goodwin’s memory back to Essence’s last moments.
“Little things will trigger memories; a little bit of dialogue, or, the other day I put a lanyard with some keys on over my head and . . . I had the Epirb [emergency position-indicating radio beacon] around my neck when that [the sinking] happened.
“I had to stop and take a breath.
“It’s not affecting my life badly but it’s still there.”
As Essence sank around them, Goodwin’s activated the beacon to alert rescuers to their position.
He paid tribute to his rescuers – who included Coastguard and rescue helicopter crew – shortly afterward and he echoed that same sentiment for the rescuers involved this week.
“To get these five people off, after dark, it’s tough. They are amazing guys with amazing equipment.”
Video footage shows Northern Rescue Helicopter crew climbing onto Enchanter’s deck, barely breaching the surface, to help the five survivors. A helicopter crewman was lowered into the water with lifesaving equipment, as another leaped into the water off the wreckage and went to him.
The five men who were winched to safety have since been discharged from Kaitaia Hospital.
A large wave is understood to have hit the boat near Murimotu Island, breaking the bridge.
Among the deceased are Richard Bright, 63, his mate Mike Lovett, 72, and Te Awamutu builder Mark Sanders, 43.
Where to get help
If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
Or if you need to talk to someone else:
– Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
– Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
– Youthline: 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email [email protected] or online chat.
– Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
– Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
– Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
– Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757
– Samaritans: 0800 726 666.
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