On our way to Niue we stopped in Beveridge Reef to make some repairs to our ripped sails. The voyage up from NZ was challenging with winds up to 40 kn and high seas. Twice we have to. The first time within 30 miles of Raul Is, and then again only a day out from Beveridge Reef. It was really a rough passage, and we where looking forward to a few relaxing days in the lagoon of this remote submerged atoll
But instead of being able to lick our wounds, and have some good snorkling and diving time, we where needed to rescue a British family of their catamaran.
In our first night in Beveridge Reef I went on deck at 2:30 at night, and saw a light , only about a mile away from our anchorage to windward. Believeing that the vessel is still in deep water outside the breaker line and to be able to warn them ,I turned the VHF on, only to receive a Mayday call.
They went right over the Reef, and by sheer luck did not pitch pole or break up. And where now sitting high and dry on the rocks, in an outgoing tide.
A family of four, mum an dad, and their 11 year old son and 13 year old doughter. None where injured, and for the time being they where save. Anyway, it was still dark, and there was nothing we could do at this time of the day to help them, except offer morale support via the radio, and work out a rescue plan for the morning.
A satilite call went out to the NZ Rescue Coordination Centre in Wellington . The Avanti crew had set of their EPIRB, and we wanted to inform the NZRCC that we belived, that we could get the situation under control without further assistance from NZRCC. The Dona Catharina crew could not have been more suited to organise and launch the early morning rescue mission . We had experienced sailors, Greenpeace veterans, and a marine biologist on board. First daylight saw our two ribs head for the wreck of the Avanti. Our priority was to get the two children of the wreck, and onto the saftey of Dona Catharina.IMG_10
We got within a few hundred metres of the outer Reef with our tenders, but the final contact with the stricken vessel had to be made by wading across the corals . It took Manu some time to fight the currents and waves, but he managed to walk to the wreck, piggyback the kids of the boat into the Avanti tender, and the drift them downwind to our waiting dinghies .
Once the kids were save on board Dona Catharina, where the were looked after by Monika Tina and Kylee, we headed back to get their parents of .
The next three days all crew on Dona Catharina was occupied with salvaging what ever we could on personal belongings of the shipwrecked family, cooking for now eleven on board, or patching up our shredded sails. However, The kids weren’t to sad, that most of their school books could not be saved.
Remains to say, that the reason for the stranding would lay in poor passage planing, and the reason for this are some personal problems that would have preoccupied the mind of the Avanti skipper.
We have left the wreck of Avanti in Beveridge Reef unstripped and unplundered, with the hope the the Avanti insurer, Pantaenius , will make sure on their promises, to remove the wreck completely. Beveridge Reef is a unique and pristine environment and it would be sad to see the wreck break up and pollute the lagoon .
The Avanti crew has left us, after a 130 mile downwind sail to Niue.