1999 New Zealand - published newpaper story PDF Print E-mail
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1999 New Zealand - published newpaper story
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Time ticks by and we go over the possible scenarios of who could pick up the signal and how long it would take.

We learned later that it was picked up by satellite and relayed to Bundaberg, also it was picked up by two trans Tasman airlines.

Ivan keeps asking how do we know it is working. I tell him the light is on and to have faith. We still have another EPIRB but I am keeping it for later, just in case.

Charley is on the radio sending out MAYDAY calls with no reply. After about two hours we get a call saying "This is Kiwi Rescue 676 we have you on radar and are twenty minutes from your position ..........".

We are stunned at how quickly the whole thing has happened. This is the best news ever. The New Zealand Orion arrives, roaring across the top over the boat, only a few hundred feet up. Every time I hear the radio operator go "This is Kiwi Rescue 676", I think it sounds like a very reassuring voice.

Even at that time we still have a chuckle about some of the pronunciation. Anything to lighten the situation.

The Orion proceeds to circle around and to tell us that they are currently trying to organize which is the closest ship to come and pick us up.

They question our safety equipment. We tell them we have a life raft and flares, life jackets and radio. Orion informs us they have two life rafts on board that they can drop to us if needed, although they seem disappointed that they won't get a chance to drop one.

Finally they decide that we might need a portable radio for if we need to take to the life raft. They proceed to fly over us once to drop a smoke marker. The second time they fly over they are to drop a bag with a radio inside and ballasted with drinks and chocolates. I watch as it approaches. Ivan is at the front of the boat and I am at the stern.

As it goes over the top of me I lose it in the glare, but I see it as it is flying away. I am thinking that they didn't drop the bag when it suddenly comes tearing out of the sky and lands about two metres in front of me. Scaring the hell out of me in the process.

The accuracy was amazing. People that really know their job. These guys were very important to us, but in the bigger world, this is just what they do, day in day out. A standard day at the office!

Charley checks in with the Orion every half hour as instructed. There is a bit of chit chat. It is good to keep hearing their voice. They accuse us of eating all their chocy bars and leaving them hungry.

The rescue crew inform us that they are there until we are picked up. They inform us there is another Orion back at base to take over if they have to leave, then they climb to 5000 feet to conserve fuel and wait. We are never left long without being told what is going on.

We are notified that a trawler is coming to pick us up. Then this is corrected to a ship and finally we get a name. The MV SAGAMI is 80 miles away and will take 4 hours to arrive. The Orion does all the talk with the ship until it is in range. Then Charley starts getting instructions from SAGAMI regarding pickup.

The Ship comes into view. It is huge and is powering through the swell and launching itself out of the water like a speed boat. We really get to appreciate how big the seas are when we see how it is affecting the passage of such a big ship. There is a cargo net hung over the side, just as Charley said there would be.

Ivan and look at each other and voice our thoughts. "Is it too late to change our minds". The thought of that 9000 tonne ship coming along side us and us scrambling up the side suddenly fills me with my first real fear. The raft starts to look like good alternative.


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