When a German tourist fell overboard into the rough seas off the coast of New Zealand, he saved himself using an unusual prop – his jeans.

Arne Murke was sailing with his brother in Tolaga Bay last week when the yacht’s boom pole swung unexpectedly, sending him into the water. He could not reach the life jacket his brother threw into the water and was carried away by the waves.

Luckily, he remembered a trick employed by US Navy SEALs he had seen in a video online. “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 NZ 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.”

After almost three hours at sea, he was by a rescue helicopter and airlifted to safety. “Without the jeans I wouldn’t be here today, they were really the thing that saved me,” he said.