Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik Dinghy Wetsuits

Couple rescued, boat lost to storm on notorious Tonga-Auckland route

by Nancy Knudsen on 11 Nov 2012
Windigo’s crew - Steve Jones and Tania Davies - rescued, but boat, which was Steve’s home, was lost to the sea. .. .
Welsh-Australian cruising sailor Stephen Jones broke down while describing the loss of his boat Windigo, which was also his home, to a storm on the notorious route between Tonga and New Zealand. He and his fellow crewmate, New Zealander Tanya Davies, are recovering as they steam towards New Zealand's navy vessel HMNZS Otago on the Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship, Chengtu, which rescued them.

This will take them the rest of the way back to New Zealand while the Chengtu resumes its route to its destination, Hong Kong. How do they feel?

'We are a bit battered and bruised,' according to Tanya, speaking by telephone from the Chengtu, 'but that is nothing compared to being able to live the rest of their lives. We are looking forward to terra firma.'

The storm was unforecast when they left Vava'u in Tonga less than 48 hours previous to its arrival. Soon they found themselves in 10m seas and with 50kts of wind. Both sailors were knocked unconscious when their boat was rolled through 360 degrees and righted itself. They woke to find themselves covered in blood, and Stephen had sustained a back injury. The boat was very damaged, and water was entering the boat through broken hatches.

After setting off their EPIRB they waited for rescue inside the cabin of the 38ft boat, which had also lost engine power.

Tanya described the situation. They were 'like a couple of little balls being tossed around a room,' and and 'the banging, the crashing, the whipping, the crunching, the sloshing. Just the sounds vibrated through every part of your body.'

She added that she was 'totally in shock and completely grateful' to all those involved in the rescue effort. Stephen was very emotional and broke down when describing the loss of his boat to his relieved parents in Wales.


The Chengtu had responded to the emergency call and began steaming towards the damaged yacht. After approximately 15 hours, at about 3.30am they reached the yacht, as did another yacht, Adventure Bound. They both stood by because the weather was too bad to attempt a rescue. After the wind abated to around 20kts, in the morning at about 9.00am, the crew of the Chengtu were able to use ropes and helicopter swings they had on board to fashion some gear which they threw to the two sailors and were able to drag them safely up the side of the ship. Once onboard the Chengtu their medical condition was assessed.

Merchant ships, particularly since the formation of AMVER, have recently taken a large role in the rescues of cruising sailors. Tribute have been paid to the efforts of the Chengtu, and also to the yacht Adventure Bound, which remained on-site overnight, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force, which provided a P3-Orion that made three trips to the stricken yacht providing the only communications link. A French naval plane also made two trips from Noumea to the scene since the emergency beacon was activated on Nov 7 in the afternoon.

It will still be more than 30 hours before the couple reach New Zealand.


The stretch of water between the South Pacific and New Zealand is known as an uncertain and often dangerous stretch of water. In 1994, four sailors lost their lives and at least four cruising boats were destroyed when what has become notoriously known as the 'Queen's Birthday Storm', between November 20-30, hit a regatta fleet unexpectedly. The conditions were similar to the recent incident as to wind strength and wave height.

Zhik Isotak Ocean 660x82Naiad/Oracle SupplierAncasta Ker 40+ 660x82

Related Articles

Coast Guard joins Arctic stakeholders in historic forum
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft joined leaders representing eight coast guards of Arctic nations U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft joined leaders representing eight coast guards of Arctic nations in signing a joint statement Friday. The statement adopts doctrine, tactics, procedures and information-sharing protocols for emergency maritime response and combined operations in the Arctic. The Arctic Coast Guard Forum is an operationally-focused, consensus-based organisation...
Posted on 24 Mar
Coast Guard Foundation announces tribute in New Orleans
Coast Guard Foundation announced that its Tribute to the Coast Guard District will be held at the National WW II Museum The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that its annual Tribute to the Eighth Coast Guard District will be held at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana on Friday, March 10, 2017.
Posted on 7 Mar
Coast Guard Foundation announces Scholarship Season now open
The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization, announced that it has kicked off its 2017 scholarship season. he Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that it has kicked off its 2017 scholarship season. Accepting applications from March 1st through April 15th, children of enlisted Coast Guard members may apply for annual scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
Posted on 28 Feb
Coast Guard Foundation receives donation from Ice Hockey Team
Coast Guard Foundation announced today that it received a donation from the Guilford High School Ice Hockey Booster Club The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that it has received a donation from the Guilford High School Ice Hockey Booster Club for $2,568, to benefit the Coast Guard Foundation’s Fallen Heroes Fund and Scholarship Fund.
Posted on 25 Feb
Bavaria Yachts to introduce Cruiser 34 and Nautitech 46
The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina, from February 16th to 20th.
Posted on 13 Feb
Unique Transatlantic Sailing Event - Building friendship across oceans
Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Sailing in the wake of the great explorers, international friendship and understanding is at the core of this once in a lifetime adventure - The Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
Posted on 10 Feb
Frigid flying – Coast Guard aircrews take on New England Winter
Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. At Air Station Cape Cod, aviation maintenance and electronic technicians work around the clock to ensure the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters are prepared and ready to launch. There is one thing the maintenance crews and pilots cannot control: winter weather.
Posted on 9 Feb
On board interview with Lisa Blair - solo Antartica circumnavigation
So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. After the setbacks of a delayed departure due to gremlins in the electronics, we are delighted to have these answers from her on board. She is well and enjoying her time. Climate Action Now, her Hick 50, left Albany in Western Australia on January 22, 2017.
Posted on 8 Feb
Yachting cartoonist Mike Peyton dies at 96
“The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist” died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. Mike Peyton, dubbed “The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist”, died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. A modest, shy man, he eschewed the spotlight and seemed unaware of the esteem which in sailors all around the world held him.
Posted on 27 Jan
Zhik Xeflex® - your shield against cold environments
This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. How do you make a water resistant garment that really breathes, yet reflects your own body heat back to you? Where do you find a compression resistant and extremely insulating filling that is nowhere near as bulky as the Michelin Man, yet gives you that kind of warmth and comfort?
Posted on 17 Jan