The crew of a yacht sailing off the New South Wales coast caught a lucky break when they were rescued last night after getting into strife in high swells.
Crew members aboard the Australian crewed ship, the British Loyalty, were able to rescue all four passengers after responding to a distress call at approximately 1.30am.
The fuel tanker diverted course and steamed toward the 50 foot yacht that was taking on water fast.
After a tense couple of hours the yacht crew were safely aboard the British Loyalty and were later picked up by a rescue helicopter.
Bosun aboard the ship, Glen Mallon, said the crew were lucky the tanker was in the area as the conditions in the area were “horrendous”, with an eight metre swell, coupled with 40 knot winds.
Three other vessels were in the area capable of rescuing the yacht’s crew but were unable to discern location and level of emergency because of communication breakdown the passengers aboard the yacht told Mallon.
Mallon said the crew had first established contact with a Flag of Convenience, Panamanian woodchip carrier called the Silver Pegasus but a language barrier with the crew on the Pegasus had left the four people aboard the yacht in strife.
Maritime Union of Australia Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray congratulated the British Loyalty crew on their valiant efforts.
“Australian seafarers are the most highly-trained in the world and we saw that training on display last night,” Bray said.
“Our seafarers are well drilled in emergency rescue responses as a matter of course.
“I dread to think what would’ve happened to the people aboard the yacht if the Loyalty, or another Australian ship was not in the area.
“Unfortunately the British Loyalty is one of only 20 Australian coastal ships left in Australia, so the odds that a crew best-trained to deal with these types of situations was low, therefore the yacht crew should think themselves very lucky.”