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Sailor spends five days on sinking ship


A solo sailor has been rescued after five days of hand-bailing after his vessel was damaged in a storm.

The Rescue Coordination Centre in New Zealand received a signal from a US-coded EPIRB distress beacon just after 10.30am yesterday.

An RNZAF P3 Orion was sent to the scene and the 238m Fidelio, en route to Auckland, was also directed 370km to assist.

The Orion arrived on scene at about 4.30pm to find the 11m L'Antillaise, with one man from British Columbia on board, in danger of sinking following damage sustained during a storm the previous week.

The Fidelio arrived at 11pm and rescued the sailor from the sinking ship.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Dave Wilson said the skipper was heading home to Canada when the yacht was hit by a storm five days ago, causing the yacht to roll over and sustain damage resulting in a serious leak.

"The skipper had been hand-bailing since the storm, but when the bilge pump failed he could no longer keep up with the water. At that stage he activated the EPIRB," Mr Wilson said.

"There was no question the skipper was in serious danger. The crew of the Orion did a great job finding the yacht, and it was an amazing effort from the master and crew of the Fidelio to rescue the skipper at night, in high winds and rough seas. The sailor received superficial facial injuries when his vessel rolled and these have been treated aboard the Fidelio."