Sailor rescued off Hawke’s Bay coast after night stuck in extreme conditions
Mar 29, 2023
One sailor spent a perilous night stuck on his yacht off the coast of Hawke’s Bay with no mast or working engine as many stayed inside away from the nasty weather.
A spokesperson for the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) said they received an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) alert from a yacht 60 nautical miles (111 km) east-south-east of Hastings, near Cape Kidnappers, at 5.15pm on Wednesday.
The 10-metre yacht had rolled in heavy weather, breaking the mast, which left the solo sailor needing assistance to cut the rigging free so he could motor back to Napier.
The spokesperson said the situation worsened as the night progressed due to the engine failing and the sailor eventually requested assistance to abandon his vessel.
“A Talley’s trawler Amaltal Apollo, assisted by a NZ Container vessel and a New Zealand Defence Force C-130 Hercules, transferred the sailor onboard their vessel in extremely challenging weather conditions,” the spokesperson said.
The rescue was completed at 10am on Thursday, but the sailor remains at sea for now.
“The sailor was cold and weathered but okay, he will be remaining on board and they currently looking at options to transfer him ashore,” the spokesperson said.
RCCNZ duty manager, Lyle Patterson said it was a difficult rescue, with swells of about seven metres and a significant distance offshore.
“We are hugely appreciative of the support from the vessels, as well as the NZDF,” Patterson said.
“This rescue highlighted how important it is to carry an EPIRB. In this instance, it was a lifesaver.”
Talley’s deepsea general manager Ben Holden said the crew of the Apollo are trained for sea rescue and used their expertise to bring the yachtie on board and give them medical treatment, while the vessel then diverted to the closest port.
Holden thanked his team for their quick response and professionalism under difficult weather conditions.
The Hercules aircraft was from the Royal New Zealand Air Force No. 40 Squadron.
A NZDF statement said RCCNZ requested the Hercules to provide overwatch while two nearby ships drew closer to the yacht and during the transfer of the sailor.
No. 40 Squadron executive officer Squadron Leader Rob Attrill said the Hercules crew was pleased they could assist and they were relieved the yachtie had been successfully rescued.
“Every time we deploy an aircraft for search and rescue, we’re hoping for the best possible outcome,” he said.
“Delivering this capability is one of the things our crews train for, and it’s always a good feeling to know the C-130 crew’s efforts, and that of all our enablers on base Auckland; especially No. 40 Squadron maintenance, have contributed to a successful rescue.”