The New Zealand rescue centre has been leading the rescue of two Americans onboard a dismasted yacht, about 65 km northeast of Tonga.
A New Zealand Air Force Orion on a routine flight from Whenuapai to Tonga located the yacht Tandem having picked up an activated distress beacon at 6.30pm last night. The 50-foot yacht had lost its mast in poor weather and was taking on water.
The Rescue Coordination Centre arranged for British yacht Sunook to set out from Tonga to help rescue the crew.
At midnight Sunook rendezvoused with Tandem, by which time weather conditions had eased and the crew had managed to stop the vessel taking on water.
The 35-foot Sunook was this morning towing Tandem back to Tonga, and other vessels were waiting to assist the Tandem in to Tongatapu harbour.
RCCNZ Mission Controller Geoff Lunt said the crew of Tandem were well prepared for the journey as they had a 406 MHz distress beacon, flares and a life raft on board.
He said: "Their preparedness made it so much easier for them to call for help, and for us to find and communicate with them.
"The crew of Sunook described the yachties as 'positively chipper' and greatly relieved to see help arrive.
"The Americans are now having a much-needed sleep, and they're looking forward to a hearty meal being prepared for them when they arrive."
The vessels are now about 8 miles out from Tongatapu, and they have about four hours to go as they're only travelling at a speed of 3 knots.
- HERALD ONLINE STAFF