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Distress beacons save lives - two yacht rescues completed

Distress beacons save lives - two yacht rescues completed safely

19 November 2017

Both solo-yachtsman whose vessels were badly damaged north of New Zealand at the weekend have been rescued successfully because they had distress beacons.

Weather conditions had been bad, with winds up to 50 knots and five metre waves.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Dave Wilson said both yachts were well equipped, and the yachtsmen were saved because they could activate their distress beacons.

"Waterproof communications saves lives," Mr Wilson said. "Without maritime radios and distress beacons they would not have been able to tell us they were in trouble."

Today after 5pm, a 67year-old Norwegian yachtsman was picked up by the container ship, Southern Lily, about 140 nautical miles north east of Cape Brett. The man is in good health.

Southern Lily had diverted to rescue the yachtsman and will now resume its voyage to Auckland, where it should arrive tomorrow afternoon.

The damaged yacht, Ilanga, is now drifting and a navigation warning has been issued.

Ilanga had suffered mast and sail damage, a broken window, and a fire in an electrical panel.

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon, a Kiwi yachtsman was rescued from his life raft after his yacht, Waimanu, sank 90 nautical miles east of Norfolk Island.

He was rescued by the cargo ship, Norfolk Guardian, which was bound for Norfolk Island. Currently, Norfolk Guardian is sheltering north east of the Island. Strong wind and heavy seas are preventing it berthing. The ship and all on board are safe and well.

New Zealand Defence Force aircraft assisted in both rescues. They located Ilanga and Waimanu's life raft and guided the rescue ships to them.

"Search and rescue is a team effort," Mr Wilson said. "RCCNZ, NZ Defence Force and the cargo ships worked together, and the yachtsman had made sure they were well-prepared with safety equipment.

"Without everyone's efforts, including the yachtsmen's preparation, the outcomes could have been tragic."

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