Last week we reported that an American-flagged yacht, Hot Ice, participating in the Port2Port Rally from Vanuatu and Noumea to Bundaberg in Australia hit Kenn Reef, an atoll on a submerged continental block about 280 nm north east of Gladstone.
Chris and Nancy Zingler on Amulet in Bundaberg yesterday. photo: Ron Burgin
They have now arrived in Bundaberg, with nothing but their passports and the clothes they stand up in, and they told Letea Cavander the story of their knife edge rescue.
Seconds after Americans Ellen and Frank Atteberry yelled their emergency status over the radio they had just switched on, their communication system cut out as water filled the hull of their yacht.
The pair was participating in the Rally when they hit Kenn Reef on Sunday, the collision occurring at about 5.30am as the pair swapped duties.
Kenn Reef aerial
'It sounded like a knife sliding up the hull of the boat,' Mrs Atteberry said.
'As soon as we hit water started to pour in.'
Mr Atteberry managed to yell a few 'maydays' into the radio before it cut out and the pair escaped into the cockpit of Hot Ice as it submerged.
The 13-metre yacht, the pair's home for eight years, teetered and fell to its side.
'We turned on the EPIRB (emergency beacon) about 5.30am,' Mr Atteberry said.
The couple then launched their life raft but the emergency boat was torn by the coral of the reef that they had hit. They then had no choice but to wait until help arrived.
Luckily, 18.5km south of the reef Chris and Nancy Zingler, who sail a 13-metre fibreglass sloop Amulet, were updating their location with the regular 'sched' and were told of the couple in trouble.
They approached the reef about 8.30am and rescued the pair.
However, in another complication, Mrs Atteberry's heart medication was submerged as Hot Ice went under so the rescuers endeavoured to make the remainder of the trip to Bundaberg as peaceful as possible.
The Atteberrys arrived in Bundaberg yesterday morning with nothing but the clothes on their backs and passports. All of their prized possessions and irreplaceable items like photographs and wedding rings have gone down with the yacht.
There were over 40 boats participating in the Port2Port Rally, which occurs annually at the end of the South Pacific Cruising season. Most of the 40 boats were still present at the Bundaberg Port Marina, as the Rally organisers, the Bundaberg Yacht Club, organise a week long welcome to the arriving rally participants. There was no shortage of helping hands when they arrived.
The couple said they were bowled over by the generosity of the Australians and their fellow boaties.
'They will always be in our heart,' Mrs Atteberry said.