Couple forced to row catamaran back to shore

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012
Bevan Christiansen
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
PADDLE POWER: Bevan Christiansen with his stepdaughter, Lily Greenwood, 3, dog Kobi and a paddle he used to row his catamaran more than a kilometre after his outboard motor lost its propeller.

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It wasn't a case of being up the creek without a paddle - instead a New Plymouth couple were left all at sea with only paddles.

Bevan Christiansen, 38, and his partner, Rebecca Greenwood, were more than a kilometre off Lower Timaru Rd in their four-metre catamaran about 8pm on Wednesday when things took a turn for the worse.

The propeller came off the outboard motor they were using, leaving them stranded.

Mr Christiansen said it was the first time he had used the motor on the yacht and things appeared to be going well, until it came time to head back to shore. "Everything went perfectly until the prop came off," he said.

"I don't understand how it came off."

Only minutes before, the couple - who are both nurses at Taranaki Base Hospital - had waved away another boat which had pulled up to check if they were all right.

"It was dreadful, we were just watching the other boat disappear into the distance," Mr Christiansen said.

He said it took a while to register what had happened.

"I was really confused for a while, I was going, it's started, it's going, it's in gear, why are we not going anywhere."

Knowing there was not much daylight left, Mr Christiansen called police on his cellphone, who alerted the Coastguard, and the couple then began the long row for shore with a set of plastic paddles, they were lucky to have.

Battling a south-easterly wind, a current and a small chop, the couple, who were both wearing lifejackets, were not sure if they would make land by nightfall and got flares prepared just in case.

The sun was setting and the Coastguard arrived just as the couple navigated their way through the shore break.

"We got to the beach and got out of the boat without getting our feet wet, really. It was an interesting little adventure."

Mr Christiansen said it was the furthest he had ever rowed and his arms were sore.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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