Yacht rolls 230km south of Tonga

Last updated 12:18 08/11/2012
rescue
The crew has activated their EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) and is awaiting rescue by the New Zealand Navy.

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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 (7 November).

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."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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