A Northland rescue helicopter yesterday flew equipment to a disabled yacht which is riding out high winds and rough seas off the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour.

Pete Turnbull, chief pilot for the , Northland Emergency Services Trust, said the 12m vessel's engine failed on Friday and its main sails were blown out in 70km/h winds.

The three crew of the ketch Cheval de Mer used a small jib and mizzen sail to claw their way north and stay clear of the treacherous lee shore.

Mr Turnbull said the yacht was "rocking and rolling" in 4-6m-high seas as replacement communications equipment was winched down to it about 20km off the coast.


"The crew said they were not in immediate danger and sounded composed and competent."

Maritime NZ's national search and rescue co-ordination centre said it was monitoring the vessel through frequent signals from an emergency beacon.

Rough seas on the harbour bar prevented a coastguard vessel reaching the yacht yesterday and another attempt will be made today when conditions are expected to improve.