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Leaking yacht under escort to safety

DATE: 21 November TIME: 11.45am
Leaking yacht under escort to safety

The crew of a 13.7 metre (45ft) yacht en route from Fiji to Opua spent an anxious night manually pumping water out of the vessel after it began taking on water and lost power, 54km east of North Cape.

The Freedom Hunter, a sloop with three people on board, is being escorted to Mangonui, after the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) dispatched the New Zealand Coastguard vessel Bay Rescue from Kerikeri with pumping equipment.

The yacht first alerted Maritime Radio it was taking on water at around midnight, and RCCNZ tasked Northern Emergency Services Trust (NEST) helicopter from Whangarei to make an attempt to winch pumping equipment to the crew but conditions did not allow this to happen.

A French yacht, Confiance, later rendezvoused with the Freedom Hunter, shadowing it during the night.
RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator John Ashby said the 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. “The plan now is to get the yacht to Mangonui and assess it for damage.”

The vessels are likely to reach Mangonui at around 1pm.

It is not known what caused the yacht to take on water.

The Freedom Hunter is a New Zealand yacht. No information is available about the crew.

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