The captain of a container ship which rescued three people off a battered yacht has spoken about the moment of relief when the crew had been successfully rescued.
When the Platino was hit with extreme sea conditions and winds up to 75km/h around 550km north of New Zealand, one of the yacht’s crewmen was lost overboard and another died.
It had taken the Southern Lily, a container ship, around 14 hours to reach the Platino, Captain Shassi Prakash says.
“Once we arrived here, we had New Zealand Air Force aircraft Orion on the site and three people in the boat, and we made contact with them about our rescue plan.”
Yacht crewman a ‘humble man’
But it wasn’t an easy rescue. The three survivors, Tory and Brent McKeogh and their friend Ross McKee, were forced to remain on the devastated vessel as rough weather hampered rescue attempts.
Strong winds and large swells battered the two boats as a line was thrown to the smaller vessel, before the three remaining crew members were able to board the Southern Lily, a container ship.
While the 20-hour struggle left the survivors exhausted, Capt Prakash says their relief at finally being rescued was obvious.
“All three boarded and they were all very excited, they started hugging the crew member on the deck,” he says.
“They were exhausted. They were almost in the water in drifting conditions for more than 20 hours, so they were exhausted.”
The body of Nick Saul, who lost his life in the tragic event, remains on board the sinking Platino as the poor weather made it too dangerous to bring the body across to the container ship.
The Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ) is coordinating the rescue operation and search for the missing man.
RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator John Dickson praised the master and crew of the Southern Lily for what was a difficult operation.
“It was not easy to get the three crew members from the yacht to the much larger ship in those sea conditions, they’ve done a tremendous job,” he says.
“We are obviously disappointed that it was not safe to transfer the body of the deceased crew member, but safety must come first. We will keep track of the position of the yacht.”
The Southern Lily and the three remaining survivors of the incident are expected to arrive in New Zealand early Thursday morning.
Read more: http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/yacht-sinking-survivors-exhausted-but-excited-to-be-rescued-2016061500#ixzz4BcHRdD5d