Crew stranded as yacht stalls, starts leaking

Last updated 12:18 21/11/2012

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Crew members on a 13.7-metre yacht sailing east of North Cape have spent an anxious night pumping water after the sloop began leaking and lost power.

New Zealand yacht Freedom Hunter, with three people on board, was 54km from land when an emergency call was sent at about midnight, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) said.

The New Zealand Coastguard boat Bay Rescue has been sent from Kerikeri with pumping equipment to help and the yacht was being escorted to Mangonui. It is expected to reach land about 1pm.

After the alarm was raised, the Northern Emergency Services Trust helicopter from Whangarei had tried to winch pumping equipment to the crew but conditions hampered the operation.

French yacht Confiance later reached with the Freedom Hunter and stayed with it during the night.

RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator John Ashby said the Freedom Hunter's crew were tired but relieved.

"It would have been a frightening experience for the crew, and hard work to keep pumping manually for more than eight hours," he said.

It was not known what caused the yacht, which had been travelling from Fiji to Opua, to take on water.

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