A well-known sailor from Nelson has lost his life after falling overboard near the Marlborough Sounds this week. He was not wearing a life jacket or harness and was wearing full wet weather gear. Maritime New Zealand are investigating.
Charles and Mrs Jones
Desperate attempts were made to save Charlie Gallagher after he was swept from his yacht by a large wave, but in the end his sailing companion could only watch as he died in heavy seas.
Gallagher, 52, was sao;omg his 11-metre Elliot racing yacht, Mrs Jones, when he fell overboard near Cape Jackson in the outer Marlborough Sounds, about 2pm yesterday.
He and a woman crew member were sailing through the treacherous stretch of water toward Picton.
Sergeant Kris Payne, of Picton, said Gallagher, living in Blenheim at the time, was swept overboard in 'gnarly seas'.
His companion dropped the sail and tried desperately to save him using a line with a winch, but after multiple attempts she could only watch as the experienced sailor succumbed to the conditions.
A mayday call was made and emergency services responded, with the Westpac rescue helicopter from Wellington first to arrive, police said.
Gallagher was winched from the water into the helicopter where CPR was performed. He was pronounced dead soon after.
'It's obviously a traumatic event and his sailing companion will be going through a range of emotions,' Payne said.
Police did not know if he drowned, died of hypothermia or an existing medical condition. The death has been referred to the coroner. Maritime New Zealand is investigating.
Gallagher was recently separated from his wife Sue, who said today that Mrs Jones was the yacht her husband had always dreamed of.
The yacht was launched in Auckland in early 2006 and delivered to Nelson where a champagne launch was held.
'Mrs Jones was exactly what he wanted. He loved the designs of Greg Elliott.
'She was named after the song Me and Mrs Jones, because of the 'thing' he had going on with her.
'It was always Charlie and Mrs Jones.'
Mrs Jones was built primarily for racing but was adapted so it could also serve as a family cruising boat.
She said the family, including their four children Tim, Kelsee, Ross and Abby, had many great sailing holidays in the Abel Tasman National Park.
The tight-knit Nelson yachting community was in shock at the loss of a 'great guy' and very experienced yachtsman.
The news has spread fast around Nelson, with many shocked at how such an experienced coastal and offshore yachtsman could die this way.