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Cruise Ship Rescues Sailors on Reef

By Sue Richards last modified Nov 25, 2008 08:59 PM

Published: 2008-11-25 20:59:34
Countries: Australia , New Caledonia

As reported in Otago Times/Sail-World Cruising on Fri 21 Nov 2008.

The 2000 or so cruise passengers on P&O;'s Pacific Sun got more than they bargained for, as their holiday liner was diverted last week to save four shipwrecked sailors.

The four crew of the New Zealand yacht Sambaluka had waited all day to be rescued by P&O; cruise ship Pacific Sun from a reef off the coast of Australia, after they had abandoned their sinking yacht and taken to a liferaft.

The cruise liner changed course on its way back to Brisbane from Vanuatu to rescue the crew, who abandoned the yacht after they ran aground on Chesterfield Reef, about 500 nautical miles east of the Queensland city of Mackay and half way between Noumea and Australia. Chesterfield Reef is a common stopover point for yachts wanting to explore and dive the uninhabited coral atolls. The lagoon at Chesterfield is located at S19° 00´ and 20° 30´ E158° 10´ and 159°.

The crew of four - a New Zealander, two Frenchmen and an American - set off a distress beacon at 6.30am (NZ time), which was answered by the Pacific Sun, according to reports.

An Australian maritime safety spokesman said the 14m Sambaluka was travelling from Noumea when it ran onto the reef. Noumean authorities dispatched a plane to track the stricken yacht this morning and dropped a liferaft for the crew.

An Australian Defence Force Hercules left Townsville and should have arrived at the liferaft.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) spokesman said none of the four men were injured. "I understand they are wet, a bit frightened, but okay," the spokesman said.

The yacht is registered to a New Zealander, Rob Cole, but there was no confirmation that he was the New Zealander in the liferaft.