A lone sailor found himself drifting out to sea as Cyclone Gabrielle struck when the anchor cable snapped on his catamaran after he grounded in Port Fitzroy, Aotea Great Barrier Island.
The man was rescued by the Navy ship HMNZS Te Mana on Monday evening near the Hen and Chicken Islands, southeast of Whangarēi.
NZ Defence Force said no air assets were able to reach the catamaran because of the severe weather and Te Mana was the best equipped ship to respond in the conditions.
The navy searched for the man overnight and his catamaran’s location was discovered after an emergency locator beacon was activated.
Te Mana’s team had to wait for weather conditions to ease enough for a rigid inflatable hull and crew to attempt the rescue.
The man left his vessel wearing a life jacket and was plucked from the sea by two navy divers.
The Northland Rescue Helicopter provided overwatch for the mission.
“We’re very pleased this joint search and rescue has been successful and the person is now safe on board Te Mana,” Maritime component commander Commodore Garin Golding said.
National state of emergency: What you need to know
- The New Zealand government has declared a National State of Emergency, to assist in the response to Cyclone Gabrielle.
- The declaration will apply to the six regions that have already declared a local State of Emergency: Northland, Auckland, Tairāwhiti, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Hawke’s Bay.
- A national state of emergency gives the national controller legal authority to apply further resources across the country and set priorities in support of a national level response.
National Emergency Management Agency advice:
- Put safety first. Don’t take any chances. Act quickly if you see rising water. Floods and flash floods can happen quickly. If you see rising water do not wait for official warnings. Head for higher ground and stay away from floodwater.
- Stay at home if it is safe to do so. But have an evacuation plan in case your home becomes unsafe to stay in.
- If you have evacuated, please stay where you are until you are given the all-clear to go home.
- People should stay up to date with the forecasts from MetService and continue to follow the advice of Civil Defence and emergency services.
- Do not try to walk, play, swim, or drive in floodwater: even water just 15 centimetres deep can sweep you off your feet, and half a metre of water will carry away most vehicles. Flood water is often contaminated and can make you sick.