Rescued sailors reach shore after dramatic ocean rescue

The view of the yacht Django II from Otago’s bridge wing as the ship considers the best way to effect a rescue in 4-metre swells
New Zealand Defence Force
The three sailors plucked from the J/111 Django have reached shore after their dramatic rescue on nightfall yesterday.

Just 170nm from the NZ coast the yacht broke its rudder shaft, in 50kts winds and 5metre seas.

The crew made a Mayday call which was picked up by the New Zealand based Rescue Co-Ordination Centre who tasked, two vessels to divert about 90nm to the location of the yacht.

One was a bulk carrier, and fortunately the other was a Royal NZ Navy patrol vessel, HMNZS Otago.

MNZ spokesman Neville Blakemore told Radio New Zealand there were 'extremely high seas', with waves reaching 5m, reports the NZ Herald.

The stricken yacht Django viewed from HMNZS Otago
New Zealand Defence Force

It was very difficult for the yacht to come alongside the Otago, he said.

'So they determined that the best bet was to get the people to get into their liferaft, which was connected by a rope to the warship and the crew of the warship then pulled them over to the warship.

'Just as they got there the first time, due to the sea conditions the warship rolled violently and the crew thought that they were going to get crushed by the warship so they cut the rope and a sailor dived in to attach another rope - swam to the life raft and reconnected it all.'

It was 'quite risky', but the rescuer would have been a highly trained ship diver, Mr Blakemore said.

Lieutenant Wasley was 'the best looking man I've seen for a while', said Ms Hielkema, laughing as she described seeing him reach their liferaft last night.

Passing gunline to the stricken yacht
New Zealand Defence Force

'It was fantastic to see the face of someone who looked very capable of saving us,' she said.

Despite the trio being very well prepared, they were glad to be rescued when the Otago arrived around two hours earlier than expected.

They had grab bags with all their essentials - including Milo bars and lollies - and were wearing wet-weather gear and lifejackets. They passed their time waiting to be rescued by briefing each other on what they should do in different types of rescue situations, she said.

The plan was to stay in the yacht, which was now letting in water, for as long as they could, before being advised by the Navy to move into their liferaft.

'It's a tiny inflatable bouncy castle in 60 knots of breeze, so it's not really an ideal situation,' said Ms Hielkema.

'We were very reluctant to get into the liferaft.'

Gunline being hauled in by the yacht's crew
New Zealand Defence Force

The first attempt to get draw them in on a rescue line failed, when, with the Navy vessel lurching in four-metre swells, they felt it too dangerous to hold on. The decision to send a diver was then made.

As a former Navy diver, Lieutenant Wasley was the most experienced swimmer on board, volunteering to take on the daunting task.

He admitted it was a scary situation.

'Anyone who wouldn't be scared in that situation doesn't know the risks,' he said.

For the full report click here

Click here!for the One News report on the rescue

Liferaft under tow -- yacht abandoned
New Zealand Defence Force

Preparing the swimmer's gantry, for LT Simon Wasley, ship's diver, to dive into the water to further assist the rescue
New Zealand Defence Force

Liferaft nears ship in fading light
New Zealand Defence Force

A very happy Django skipper Ben Costello with crewmates Bex Heikema and Andrew Cooke- Django crew arrive ashore at Devonport Naval Base July 9, 2014
New Zealand Defence Force

Django skipper Ben Costello with crewmates Bex Heikema and Andrew Cooke being interviewed on the bridge. - Django crew arrive ashore at Devonport Naval Base July 9, 2014
New Zealand Defence Force

Lt Wasley being interviewed by media on OTAGO's bridge - Django crew arrive ashore at Devonport Naval Base July 9, 2014
New Zealand Defence Force

HMNZS Otago returning to Devonport Naval Base this morning - Django crew arrive ashore at Devonport Naval Base July 9, 2014
New Zealand Defence Force

Ship's Diver. Lt Simon Wasley, on Otago's bridge after the ship's return - Django crew arrive ashore at Devonport Naval Base July 9, 2014
New Zealand Defence Force

CO HMNZS Otago Lt Cdr Tim Garvan (second from left) with rescued yachties Andrew Cooke, Bex Heikena and skipper Ben Costello - Django crew arrive ashore at Devonport Naval Base July 9, 2014
New Zealand Defence Force
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