Yacht abandoned 170nm north of New Zealand, navigation warning out

Django II, here sailing in Fiji earlier this year, now abandoned 170nm north of North Cape in New Zealand
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A yacht has been abandoned about 170nm north of the North Cape of New Zealand after three crew, two men and one woman, were rescued dramatically from their liferaft after leaving their yacht, whose rudder had been compromised and was in danger of sinking. A navigation warning has been issued.

The 11m yacht Django II was returning from Fiji when Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) was alerted by a mayday call picked up by Maritime Radio.

RCCNZ immediately tasked two vessels in the area, the log carrier Laura Bulker which was en route from Tauranga to China and 60 nautical miles from the stricken yacht, and the Royal New Zealand Navy patrol vessel HMNZS Otago, which was 90 nautical miles away.

Otago - sent a swimmer into the water in heavy seas to reattach the line which the yacht crew had cut through fear of being swept under the ship
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The Otago arrived alongside Django II at about 5.30pm, with the Laura Bulker on scene shortly after and standing by while the naval vessel carried out the rescue.

It was a rescue fraught with danger because of the heavy seas. The Django's II crew abandoned ship into a liferaft, but as it was being towed to the Otago they feared the larger vessel was about to roll over and crush them in the heavy seas, so they cut the line.

The Otago then sent a swimmer into the water with another line, to tie the liferaft on again and bring it alongside.

The crew were then delivered safely on board the Otago, en route to Devonport in Auckland at the time of writing, and expected to arrive within a day.

According to reports, RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Neville Blakemore praised both the Otago and Laura Bulker for their prompt response to the request for help, and the skilful rescue in difficult conditions.

Django Laura Bulker
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Both the yacht and liferaft were still afloat when the vessels departed the area, and a navigation warning has been issued to advise mariners of its position.

Cruising sailors reading this account will be curious to know why the crew abandoned the yacht when it was still afloat, which is against normal advice for these situations. Details are scarce in the current reports being received.