Two Kiwi sailors who were rescued from their burning yacht in the middle of the Pacific are celebrating their return to Auckland with a cold beer among family and friends this afternoon.
Family and friends of yachties Murray Vereker-Bindon, 70, and Michael Boyd, 68, were waiting at Danny Doolan's pub at the Auckland Viaduct while the pair cleared Customs.
Vereker-Bindon's wife of 12 years Yolanda welcomed her husband with a warm embrace as he exited a Customs car outside the pub.
Yolanda saw her husband off as he set sail from Mexico aboard Sunny Deck, but she hadn't counted on being in New Zealand when her husband and crew arrived.
"I flew in to greet my beautiful husband, and the other survivors. I wasn't going to be here, but we change plans when the world needs it. That's life," she said.
Yolanda was there to see the Sunny Deck off, but she hadn't counted on being in NZ when her husband and crew arrived. The original plan was for Murray to return to Mexico with friends.
The sailors took a moment to exchange relieved greetings before heading to the bar for a few drinks.
Vereker-Bindon's son Andrew said his father had always planned on having a beer at the pub when he returned.
"So it's still going to be a bit of a celebration, just a little more so now. At least it's an arrival, not a funeral," he said.
The yachties and their Mexican skipper Victor Campos miraculously survived the ordeal about 1.30am on Wednesday.
The 15-metre yacht Sunny Break was engulfed in flames after the engine caught fire.
The two Kiwis were woken by the captain's yacht at about 1:30am on Wednesday, as heavy smoke billowed through the ship.
Vereker-Bindon's brother David said it was amazing how quicking everyone responded to the accident.
"They were only in the water 4 hours before being picked up. I happen to know the Mexican Ambassador in Wellington, when I called her she had the skippers passport details on her desk less than 10 hours after."
Vereker-Bindon told the NZME. news service earlier in the week the crew had made a series of lucky escapes, but had come close to death.
"It was just a miracle. I counted we had about five ways to die. It was pretty close."
"We've come off with no money, no passports, just the clothes we were wearing. And we're alive. That's a blessing. Everything else is replaceable."
After the trio got on deck, flames erupted out of the cabin where they had been sleeping.
They jumped into a lifeboard, wearing just boxer shorts and t-shirts and cut themselves loose from the ship for fear of explosion. The lifeboat was punctured in the processes.
After four hours bailing water and praying in the cold, they spotted the lights of the Hamburg Sud cargo ship heading right for them.
The trio still had to paddle for an hour in the rough seas to reach the ship and get on board.
The journey from Mexico had been a "bucket list" trip for Mr Vereker-Bindon, who splits his time between Mexico and New Zealand, where he worked as a lawyer.
He and his wife run a student exchange programme in Acupulco, offering school exchanges between students from Mexico and New Zealand.
Vereker-Bindon's niece Jenny Gravit wrote him a poem, which he read quietly at the pub.
"The poem was fantastic. I wrote her a poem when I was the MC at her wedding, using the same A A Milne song, 'When you go down the sea again'. It's become a family joke," he said.
The poem written by Vereker-Bindon's niece:
Murray John Vereker-Bindon and his wife Joli
Take great care of each other since their marriage in 2003
They share their time (and good red wine)
Between Mexico and En Zee
One day, Murray B, said to Joli, said he
"I think I will buy myself a yacht and sail across the sea
I've found the one, lets have some fun
on the Sunny Decks SV"
To Murrary J Vereker-B, Joli said, said she
"That's all fine and have a great time, but you can go without me."
So Murrary John Vereker-B packed up his yacht, did he
He gathered a crew, a brew or two and set sail out to sea.
Late one night Joli got a call and said to herself said she
"This man is speaking German, why is Murray in Germany?"
But all along she knew something was wrong and rang up Matthew
"I've had a call that didn't make sense at all
I fear Murray is lost at sea."
Meanwhile, out to sea, is Murray Vereker-B
Who'd been sleeping like a baby on the Sunny Decks SV
When things got dire with shouts of "fire" and a quick leap to 'safety'
He found himself all wet and scared and truely all at sea
But miracles come and so do ships in the shape of a huge MV
The container ship Cap Capricorn was a sight they were grateful to see
But the hardest part was yet to come for Murray Vereker-B
To get to the ship and up to decks of the mighty Cap MV
But he found some strength not usually there in an old boy of seventy
He thanked the Lord as he struggled on board the decks of the huge MV
With grateful thanks he fueled his tanks and phoned his family
Now he's on the news with tales of his cruise and newfound celebrity.
So Murraay John Vereker-Bindon said to his wife Joli
"I had a great time but for you I did pine, when I was out to sea
I can tick of my list but I must insist, home is now where I want to be."
So with this rhyme (until next time), we say "Welcome home, Murray!"