NZ, Chatham Islands: Solo Polish Yachtsman Rescued
A Polish yachtsman rescued 2700 kilometres east of New Zealand had to be convinced of “the gravity of the situation”.
Published 6 years ago, updated 4 years ago
As reported by http://www.stuff.co.nz – April 14th, 2017
Round-the-world sailor Gregor Wegrzyn, 64, activated an emergency beacon on Thursday afternoon after his 10.6-metre yacht the Reginar R suffered steering failure.
Cargo ship Key Opus arrived Saturday afternoon in a joint Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) and New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) operation.
However, Wegrzyn had been reluctant to leave his yacht, RCCNZ search and rescue mission co-ordinator Dace Wilson said.
“The man spoke little English, a hurdle we had to overcome for this operation.”
RCCNZ contacted NZDF to fly again from New Zealand in an Air Force P3K2 Orion, this time with a Polish speaker on board, to convince Wegrzyn he needed to be rescued.
After several unsuccessful attempts, the Orion crew delivered a radio to Reginar R at about 9 am Sunday.
“Once the Polish speaker – who was known to the man-made radio contact with him he was able to convince him of the gravity of the situation and he [Wegrzyn] agreed to leave his boat,” Wilson said.
A net was dropped down the side of the Key Opus and Wegrzyn was able to climb aboard.
While in Melbourne in December, Wegrzyn told local newspaper The Star he had set sail from Poland on June 6, 2015, and planned to circumnavigate the world twice, once in each direction.
Before reaching Australia he and the Reginar R – named after his grandmother – had survived 16 storms at sea, he said.
He left Auckland on March 18 and planned to return to Poland around Cape Horn in Chile.
Wilson commended the rescue effort, which was complicated by the yacht’s long distance from land, 25-knot winds and three-metre swells.
“The fact it took two full days of sailing for the Key Opus to reach the man’s position underscores the remoteness of this rescue.
“We’d also like to acknowledge the help of the Polish Embassy in this rescue.”
Wegrzyn was being transported to Chile, the Key Opus‘ next port of call, in “good spirits,” Wilson said. He was expected to arrive there on May 4.
His yacht remains at sea and RCCNZ was broadcasting a warning to other vessels in that area.