NZ yachtie Alan Langdon turns up in Australia after crossing the Tasman
When Alan Langdon's catamaran drifted into Ulladulla Harbour in New South Wales on Wednesday, he says he had no idea where in Australia he was.
The 46-year-old man and his six-year-old daughter sailed into town four weeks after they were reported missing in New Zealand.
The pair spent 27 days sailing across the Tasman Sea in a 6.4-metre catamaran with a broken rudder.
Langdon said they were forced into the harbour as he did not know their location.
"I didn't know where we were and I had no way of contacting anyone," he said.
"I have a handheld GPS but it only gives a location."
Langdon denied he sailed from New Zealand to Australia to avoid an ongoing custody dispute between himself and Que's mother, Ariane Wyler stating he has been Que's primary carer since birth.
"It's not a custody battle, it's an access thing," he said.
"I've always been looking after [Que]."
Langdon said as soon as they made landfall he made themselves known to police and relevant authorities.
"When we came in the police were down here doing something else," he said.
"We went over to them but they were a bit busy and sent us to the harbour master.
"He wasn't there, so we went somewhere else, then we called some people and then people came to see us."
Langdon was surprised at the media interest in their journey and said he learnt of their "fame" overnight.
"There is a bit of mass hysteria going on," he said.
"She [Que] did a 56 day trip before she was one, so 27 days isn't particularly big. She's lived on boats her whole life.
"I thought people might have been worried but I didn't think they'd call out planes.
"We're both healthy and we don't have any sniffles."
Despite reports Langdon intended to travel to Queensland and live "off-grid" he said this was incorrect and their original plan was to sail to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, however they were forced to change course once their rudder broke.
"We were heading north and once the rudder broke we were heading back to New Zealand, but the wind blew us here," he said.
"I first decided [to come here] when I knew what the prevailing wind was.
"Australia was the best target, the biggest target and the best option. I didn't really care what part I got to."
Langdon played down any potential danger surrounding the voyage, despite the fact that one of the catamaran's rudders broke four days into the journey, leaving him to steer with one rudder.
He said he had access to materials on board for boat repair, however the sea was never calm enough to allow him time.
"I have fibreglass and resin on board," he said.
"I have everything I need to fix it, but I just didn't get a chance."
Langdon said the boat does not have a radio or satellite phone and believes his emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) may have "taken a walk" while he was loading the boat in New Zealand.
"No radio, no satellite," he said when asked of the boat's communication devices.
"EPIRB. Yeah I'm meant to have that. It could be on there.
"I'll take the pushbikes out and they might be in there with the first aid stuff."
After approaching several fishing boats off shore Langdon and Que used oars to row into harbour.
"I tried to ask the fishing boats where we were, but they all left before we could get to them," he said.
"I even tried coming upwind to them so they couldn't smell us.
"We ended up using our oars to come in. I don't think the fishers like yachties."
The experienced yachtsman described the more than 2000 kilometre journey as "uncomfortable" but said they "didn't tackle anything particularly rough".
"A couple of times there were swells climbing the mast, but that was only a couple of times," Langdon said.
"A few times waves broke over the deck.
"It was interesting steering with one rudder, but it's the skipper's responsibility to not show their crew any signs of fear or trepidation."
The pair used one of the the catamaran's two hulls to sleep and one for storage.
"They are water tight and pretty air tight too," Langdon said.
"It gets a bit stifling on there especially in the heat. I did sleep on deck a couple of times on anchor."
Langdon said the pair were intending to live on the boat at the Bay of Islands eating mussels and fish, and had packed dry supplies to last them for months.
"We went through the tins pretty quickly. I mean things are always going to go off," he said.
"Muesli bars are good and chocolate. We had UHT milk and muesli.
"I've got a little gas cooker and had some noodles when it was calm and we were at anchor. There is a fire extinguisher below deck. There is lots of water, but fire and boats never really mix.
"It was never calm enough to have a three course meal."
The Langdons, who are both Australian citizens, are expected to travel north to Port Kembla Harbour for quarantine on Thursday afternoon.
Before they leave Ulladulla they are looking forward to a bike ride, a swim, a shower and some bacon.
"We're definitely not omnivores," Langdon joked.
- Milton Ulladulla Times