Lone sailor rescued after drifting into centre of Cyclone Gabrielle
A lone sailor has been rescued from a catamaran after his anchor broke and he drifted out to sea close to the centre of Cyclone Gabrielle, which is currently causing devastation in New Zealand.
The Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Mana dispatched a seaboat amid severe storm conditions to conduct the successful rescue operation, which took place near the Hen and Chicken Islands near Whangarēi.
The cyclone, which is currently moving down the New Zealand coastline, has been described as the worst to ever hit New Zealand — with winds averaging 60-70kts gusting up to 70-75kts. Some reports describe the sea as being up to 8 metres high in the rescue area.
The navy initially tried to reach 70-year-old sailor by helicopter, but these attempts failed due to the extreme weather conditions. The man was eventually rescued by a crew aboard the RIB, while a helicopter provided an overwatch.
Maritime Component Commander Commodore Garin Golding says sea conditions had been “challenging” and everyone involved was pleased the man was now safe on board the ship.
The sailor will disembark at Devonport Naval Base this evening (14 February 2023).
“We’re very pleased this joint search and rescue has been successful and the person is now safe on board Te Mana,” Golding adds.
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