After a spectacular 10-1/2 month adventure cruising from Port Townsend, Washington, across the ocean and around the South Pacific, Linda Attaway and Brad Nelson's journey ended off the coast of New Zealand. Wednesday, 12.Jan.2011, 19:08 (GMT+3)
After a spectacular 10-1/2 month adventure cruising from Port Townsend, Washington, across the ocean and around the South Pacific, Linda Attaway and Brad Nelson's journey ended off the coast of New Zealand. Their Golden Wave 42 Kattywompus unexpectedly hit a reef, quickly started taking on water and capsized. Luckily, they had a 6-person RescYou liferaft from Viking Life-Saving Equipment on board. With a little help from an EPIRB, the New Zealand coastguard and a local in an aluminum skiff, the pair is just fine today and they're planning their next voyage.
Traveling from Spirits Bay at the top of the North Island was pleasant for Linda and Brad with moderate seas and easterly winds. Their intended overnight anchorage was a small protected part of Doubtless Bay. When it became dark, they dropped the sails and headed the last 1/4 mile to their destination under power.
"In a heartbeat, the depth sounder jumped from 18' to 5'," said Attaway. "We hit the southern point of Tipps' reef with a jarring blow. Under full throttle we powered off, only to have a wave on our beam push us back onto the rocks. Brad went below to check for damage and immediately called out, 'we're going down!' I descended to make a mayday call but, Kattywompus was already filled with water."
Linda and Brad didn't have a moment to consider what they were leaving behind. They grabbed their Viking RescYou liferaft valise and EPIRB. With water now coming into the cockpit, they had to move to the high side of the deck. The only option was to deploy the liferaft in the lee of Kattywompus' hull.
"Brad secured the painter line and the raft deployed flawlessly," said Attaway. "After abandoning ship on sheer adrenaline, we checked the emergency pack. Having seen lights on shore earlier made us hopeful that the strobe light on the canopy and firing flares would alert someone to our situation."
Linda and Brad fired two flares and waited. Then, they heard the sound of a small outboard motor and saw a light coming towards them. A local in a small aluminum skiff came to the rescue. They headed to shore, towing the liferaft and bailing the leaky little boat. A New Zealand coastguard helicopter approached, hovered over Kattywompus and landed on the beach. With the police and a crowd of locals assembling, it was quite a scene. Cold, wet and shocked, they were gathered up and welcomed into the home of a kind New Zealand family.
"The experience of losing our boat has been sobering," said Attaway. "It happened so quickly that there was no time to consider options. But thanks to our Viking and other safety equipment, we escaped unharmed and only a bit shaken. Without a doubt, our new boat will be equipped with a Viking liferaft before we sail north to the islands again in May."