• HMNZS Wellington to the rescue of the Tafadzwa' after the yacht got stuck on rocks at the Poor Knights Islands 23km off the Tutukaka coast.
    HMNZS Wellington to the rescue of the Tafadzwa' after the yacht got stuck on rocks at the Poor Knights Islands 23km off the Tutukaka coast.
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By Annette Lambley on Stuff.co.nz

A Whangarei yachtie, who was towed off rocks at the Poor  Knights  Islands by the Protector class off-shore patrol vessel, HMNZS Wellington says he has learned a few lessons.

Lucas Remmerswaal had been enjoying his sail from Tutukaka Harbour to the Poor Knights on his 11m yacht on November 2 when things took a bad turn.

With an easterly swell running he found a calm spot, got in close and dropped his anchor. Unfortunately he had dropped anchor too close to the rocks and as the anchor settled the boat's stern drifted around and the rear part of the hull started banging against the rocks.

 "The deck was like a bucking bull at a rodeo," Remmerswaal says. "I made countless attempts to motor away all to no avail, the waves would lift the hull momentarily and then drop the Tafadzwa back on the rocks. The pounding was unbearable. 

"I tried everything I could to get the vessel off. Every wave provided new hope I would find enough freeboard to motor off but every hope was misplaced."

Realised the situation was hopeless he put out a mayday call at around 7.20am. For the next 15 minutes he tried to wrestle the Tafadzwa from the rocks but the keel and skeg were well ground into the rocks.

The relief he felt when he heard, "This is the Warship Wellington calling, we are on the way to the Poor Knights islands," was immense. "I was so grateful to see four men clothed in black commando style outfits and helmets in the ship's inflatable sea boat."

 After two attempts the Tafadzwa was prised free of the rocks and Remmerswaal was able to limp back to Tutukaka.

He now realises the conditions in the area at the time were unsuitable for anchoring.

"I didn't stop to consider other options and attempted to do what I had seen professionals do with an experienced crew," he says.

His advice: "Always do a passage plan and think through all the options in regard to safe anchorages especially in south westerly winds and easterly rolling swell of sea".

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