Injured Auckland woman rescued from disabled yacht between NZ and Tonga

News from Maritime NZ
The two injured people from the damaged yacht Windigo are safely aboard the cargo ship Chengtu after a rescue just before 9am this morning.

Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Keith Allen from the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) said heaving lines were lowered from the cargo vessel to the damaged yacht and the 52-year-old British man and the 43-year-old Auckland woman pulled aboard.

Both people aboard the Windigo sustained mild to moderate head injuries after their 11.6m yacht rolled after leaving Tonga two days ago 700km southwest of Tonga and 1260km northwest of New Zealand. The man has also suffered a back injury. None of the injuries are believed to be serious.

The pair’s medical condition will be assessed and the Chengtu will now head south to rendezvous with the Navy vessel HMNZS Otago late this afternoon.

Mr Allen paid tribute to the efforts of the Chengtu, the yacht Adventure Bound, which has also been on-site overnight, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force, which provided a P3-Orion that made three trips to the stricken yacht providing the only communications link. A French naval plane also made two trips from Noumea to the scene.

“This is the outcome we have been working towards since the emergency beacon was activated on Wednesday afternoon. It is the result of an excellent coordinated effort involving the RNZAF, which provided a link for the two people on the Windigo when there was no other means of contact, and the Navy, and I would also like to express my appreciation to the captain of the Chengtu and the crew of the Adventure Bound for their efforts.”

Press Release – National Rescue Coordination Centre – Nov 8
The injured crew of a yacht that rolled in 10m seas between New Zealand and Tonga are awaiting rescue after activating their emergency beacon at around 6.30pm yesterday.

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is also investigating a second distress beacon from an unknown vessel activated at around 5am this morning 230km southwest of Tonga.

The crew of the 11.6m (38ft) Windigo – a 52-year-old British man, and a 43-year-old Auckland woman – are understood to have sustained mild to moderate head injuries after their yacht rolled. The man has also suffered a back injury. The yacht left Tonga two days ago.

The yacht is afloat, but disabled and taking on water about 700km southwest of Tonga and 1260km northeast of New Zealand in 40 knot (75 km/h winds).

A RNZAF P3-Orion from Whenuapai reached the scene at 1am today, establishing communications with the yacht and dropping a liferaft.

It returned to New Zealand to refuel and is now en route to investigate the second distress beacon.

A French navy Guardian aircraft is flying from Noumea to the Windigo’s position, and will arrive shortly before 2pm.

Few vessels are in the area.

Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Keith Allen said another yacht, Adventure Bound, was around 70km from the Windigo’s position but capable of travelling at only 3-4km/h in the conditions.

The off shore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago has been requested to assist and has diverted from exercises in the Hauraki Gulf. It will take approximately 35-40 hours to reach the Windigo’s location.

“The two people aboard have secured themselves in the stern section of the yacht. They have a liferaft but in the conditions they are reluctant to leave the yacht until they have to,” he said. “That is the correct approach for them to take.”

UPDATE from Maritime New Zealand
The damaged yacht Windigo remains afloat with two people on board between Tonga and New Zealand. An overflight by a French navy Guardian aircraft, from Noumea, confirmed the yacht was still floating and radio contact was established with the crew, a 52-year-old British man, and a 43-year-old Auckland woman. An RNZAF P3-Orion is back in position above the yacht and will remain until 7pm.

They are both understood to have sustained mild to moderate head injuries after their 11.6m yacht rolled after leaving Tonga two days ago. The man has also suffered a back injury. None of the injuries are believed to be serious.

The yacht is about 700km southwest of Tonga and 1260km northeast of New Zealand in 40 knot (75 km/h winds).

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) has diverted a freighter, the Chengtu, to the yacht’s position and it is likely to arrive in the area sometime after 1am, at the around the same time as another yacht, Adventure Bound. No rescue would be attempted at night, and it is hoped to have the Orion back in position at daybreak tomorrow.

The off shore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago has also been requested to assist and has diverted from exercises in the Hauraki Gulf. It will take approximately 35 hours to reach the Windigo’s location.

Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Keith Allen said sea conditions were moderating but remained rough.

“It will be extremely uncomfortable and the people aboard are tired, but the yacht is still afloat so the correct approach is to remain onboard.”

Earlier, the P3-Orion established that a second beacon activated at around 5am this morning 230km southwest of Tonga is from the Tongan fishing boat Lesila which has lost power and has requested a tow to Tonga. The vessel, with three people on board, is on a sea anchor and not in immediate distress. The Tongan police have been informed and will make contact with the owner to organise the tow.

 

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