Rescued pair reflect on terror of rolled yacht

SIMON DAY
Last updated 17:59 11/11/2012

Yacht survivors

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An Auckland woman rescued from a ruined yacht says she is dazed but thankful to be alive.

Aucklander Tania Davies, 43, and Australia-based Briton Steve Jones were on Friday taken aboard the container ship Chengtu from their damaged yacht, Windigo, after it was rolled 700km southwest of Tonga.

They were pulled aboard the container ship after continued rough weather delayed the rescue effort.

"They were thrown heaving lines, big thick ropes, and then winched aboard the Chengtu," said Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Keith Allen.

"We are a bit dazed," Davies said.

She praised the crew of the Chengtu who got them aboard despite continued high seas.

"It was major skill on the crew and the captain’s part. We were getting past the point of enduring any more, and he took a lot of risks to help us," Ms Davies said.

"We would like to thank them from the bottom of our hearts."

She was also thankful for a Croatian couple, fellow yachties who sailed to their location to offer support.  Davies said they were "amazing."

That "had to sail for two days to reach us. And they took huge risks."

The container ship will now head South to meet the New Zealand Navy vessel HMNZS Otago where the pair will be treated for their injuries.

Both crew aboard the Windigo sustained mild to moderate head injuries after their 11.6m yacht rolled two days ago 700km southwest of Tonga. Jones has also suffered a back injury. None of the injuries were believed to be serious.

The families of the rescued pair were relieved.

"It feels fantastic. The is no other word for it. I am looking forward to a phone shortly after they have a hot cup of tea and a shower," said Davies' mother, Annette Bayly.

"She is a girl that likes a bit of an adventure but she has never found herself in a situation like this before," she said.

Davies' father said he will never again question the money spent on rescuing boats.

"I've often said to myself why do waste time picking up these boaties in trouble, but I have absolutely changed my mind after the effort they have gone to, to rescue my daughter," said Martin Davies.

In the UK, Jones' family was spreading the news around friends and family.

"It is absolutely fantastic news, we are just getting the message around to everyone now," said Dave Llyod, Jones' brother in law.

"Steve is a very strong character and we all knew he could cope with whatever was thrown at him. But we were all very worried when we heard the boat had turned upside down," he said.

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The yacht was located by an New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion early yesterday morning and its position had been monitored by the French government from Noumea.

Search and Rescue praised the cooperation involved in the rescue.

"We have had tremendous response from defense forces. The navy came forward very quickly to offer the services of the Otago. These operations can't be run without such a response," said Allen.

The families of the rescued pair also had high praise for the rescue effort.

"Every one of those guys would had a weekend planned and they have just given up their weekend to go and rescue Tania and Steve," Bayly said.

"I can't believe how much help we have received. The coastguard in New Zealand have been absolutely brilliant," Lloyd said.

It will be at least another two days before the HMNZS Otago arrives back in New Zealand. 

- Stuff

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