Bay of Plenty, New Zealand- The wisdom of deciding to put to sea with a cyclone remnant bearing down on the Bay is being questioned by the Waihi Beach Volunteer Coastguard crew who spent a day escorting the yacht and its skipper to Whangamata.
Skipper Jim Pooley and four crew were called out about 11am Tuesday to a yachtie anchored in Homunga Bay who said he could not raise his anchor. Homunga Bay is the third bay up the coast from Waihi Beach.
“It was a pretty straightforward job,” says Jim.
The yacht is believed to be transiting from Tauranga to Whitianga or he may even have been continuing on to Auckland, says Jim. Conditions were pretty average, and building up.
About an hour and a half later they arrived off the Whangamata Bar and asked the Whangamata rescue boat to escort the yacht over the bar.
“I'm not sure why he couldn't raise his anchor, it seemed like he had a capstan. Communications weren't all that great with him just because of the conditions. In the end we told him to cut his anchor and start making his way to Whangamata because the swell direction was south east.
“After a bit of shagging around on his part we managed to get him in the right direction and just shepherded him the whole way.
“He had an old auxiliary engine which was half in the water half out of the water. Just because of the big swells it spent at least 50 per cent of the time out of the water. It was fairly slow going.”
When they arrived off the Whangamata Bar they asked the Whangamata boat GJ Gardner Rescue to escort the yacht over the bar.
“We are not that familiar with it, and it was reasonably uncomfortable, so they escorted him in,” says Jim.
“By that time we had four metre swells building behind us so we decided to leave our boat there overnight because of the conditions, and brought it back yesterday.
“It wasn't like a super strenuous job or anything but it was probably not a great call on his part.
“He had all the gear on board, communications and stuff like that, but probably he didn't make a wise decision to be heading out on the water with an ex-tropical cyclone bearing down on the country, I wouldn't have thought.”