My stepson in Kiwiland sent me this piece from the New Zealand
On the face of it, it looks as if the crew panicked a bit, but the vessel wasn't as well-maintained as it might have been. Most revealing comment may the chopper pilot who thought that with good seamanship all would have been well.
What about our Kiwis? What were the conditions like? Was the crew justified?
(from the NZ Herald)
A maritime rescue
involving two helicopters at a cost of more than $20,000 was caused because three crew members "mutinied" against their more experienced skipper
Crew on Auckland's Westpac rescue
helicopter were endangered during the callout because the yacht was further away than an emergency
locator beacon initially showed.
The Northland Electricity rescue helicopter had to be called in to winch
the group to safety
from about 120km off the Kaipara coast because the Westpac machine had reached its fuel
limitations and had to return to Auckland
Questions have been raised over the necessity of the rescue, which has most likely ended a long friendship.
Nelson man Carl Horn told the Herald
he was helping his friend Bill Heritage take his 7.9m sloop
, Air Apparent, from Auckland
to Nelson, going around Cape Reinga.
He was assisted by his friends John Lammin and Sharan Foga, who met Mr Heritage shortly before the trip.
Mr Horn, an organiser for the National Distribution Union and a friend of Mr Heritage for 26 years, said the group, all from Nelson, had been enjoying smooth sailing until the weather
began closing in on Monday about midday.
The Coastguard reported 3m swells and 20-knot winds. By Tuesday afternoon, conditions had deteriorated and seas were rough.
Fatigued, seasick and becoming worried for their safety
, the group began discussing their options.
"Bill was of the opinion that we weren't in serious enough trouble to warrant a beacon [but] ... I have great doubts we would have survived Tuesday night," Mr Horn said.
The trio went against the skipper's wishes and set off the emergency
locator beacon at 3.22pm."We mutinied, as he put it," said Mr Horn.
"Things got out of hand as the storm got worse. The seas were rising. The motor
didn't work. We couldn't get the motor
started - the battery
had died and when we tried the crank that didn't work.
"All the instrumentation had died before we got picked up. The radio
wasn't working, we couldn't reach land, we couldn't communicate with anybody, we were on our own.
"And when we were at the point we had to put out the sea anchor
to protect ourselves, it was incomplete."
Mr Heritage, an accountant, was last night reluctant to say much about his ordeal but said his boat had been valued at $24,000 two years ago and he was looking into options for finding it at sea and retrieving it.
"I feel that their actions caused the loss of the boat," he said.
The cost of the callout exceeded $20,000 and Northland Electricity helicopter chief pilot Pete Turnbull said he believed it could have been avoided.
"From my position it didn't appear entirely necessary to evacuate the yacht. It would appear that with good seamanship, the yacht could have easily ridden out the conditions."
Westpac's chief pilot, Dave Walley, said the group was using an outdated emergency locator beacon, which was not as accurate as newer models.
Asked if the helicopter crew were angry about the callout, Mr Walley said: "If we get a call for help, we're going to answer that call - that's our first obligation. It's not our job to pass judgment."
Mr Horn said he, Mr Lammin and Ms Foga all had some sailing experience, but were relying on Mr Heritage, who had owned the boat for 15 years.
The group were "extremely distressed and sorry" that Mr Heritage had to abandon his boat because it would not have been safe for him to remain on it alone.
"I would not be surprised if he never speaks to me again," Mr Horn said. "He was extremely upset, shocked, shattered."
Mr Horn said he was "extremely grateful" to Westpac.
"My adrenaline has not yet gone down to level. The room that I am sitting in is still rolling slightly. I'm pretty well together, but I think it's fair to say that I'm pretty shaken up by the whole experience.
"I'm still shivering when I think about it."
Maritime New Zealand
is issuing navigational warnings on maritime radio
to warn other vessels about the abandoned yacht, telling them to watch out for it.
It says any salvage
or recovery is the responsibility of Mr Heritage.