Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Kiwi interpreters help stricken sailor

Photo / File photo
Photo / File photo

A solo sailor who spent 56 hours in a life raft in the Southern Ocean after encountering rough weather has been rescued by a cruise ship, assisted by Kiwi interpreters.

The experienced French yachtsman was several months into an around-the-world trip when he got into trouble more than 800km off Tasmania's coast last week.

His yacht lost its mast and suffered hull damage in the rough conditions.

On Friday afternoon Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) detected an emergency beacon activated by the sailor 500 nautical miles south west of Hobart and the cruise ship diverted its course to begin the 60-hour journey to the life raft.

The sailor was successfully rescued by cruise ship PV Orion after a three-day operation involving up to five aircraft which maintained near-continuous communication with the sailor while the ship made its way towards the life raft, said AMSA.

The aircraft also made several supply drops to the sailor, including food, water, communications equipment, additional life rafts and a survival suit.

Two New Zealand interpreters who speak French and Mandarin were flown to Australia to help with the rescue by gaining specific information about the man's condition.

The sailor had minor injuries but was generally in good health and is being taken to Hobart where he is expected to arrive tomorrow morning.


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