A pair of Kiwi sailors stranded in a Spanish port and barred from setting foot on land - to the extent of being under the watchful eye of local police - are bracing themselves for a last-ditch transatlantic voyage home.

Wellington yachtie Tuncer Sakgun has been quarantined in a Canary Islands port for the past 13 days, after pitching in as a crew mate with another New Zealand sailor touring down the Alboran Sea between Spain and Morocco.

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Sakgun says he was a stranger to the ship's captain, but thought the 10-day sailing trip starting in Valencia would be a leisurely way to cap off a business trip he'd just ended in Europe.


"The trip was originally set up as a pleasure sailing back from Europe the skipper from Tauranga," Sakgun told the Herald via email from the Canary Island's Old Town harbour.

"This situation has put a lot of pressure on both of us and turned into a survival trip rather then pleasure sailing after the outbreak of world wide deadly virus."

Old Port in Lanzarote Island, Canary Islands, where the two Kiwi sailors are stranded.
Old Port in Lanzarote Island, Canary Islands, where the two Kiwi sailors are stranded.

After a stopover in Gibraltar on their way off the coast of Spain, the pair were approaching Lanzarote island when they were contacted by the local port authority.

Sakgun says that despite having a booking to moor at Marina Lanzarote, they were ordered to not enter the port.

"When we stated that we have been on sea and we need to get food, fuel and clearance papers to go on with our journey, they have directed us to the anchorage in Old Port," he says.

"As we anchored at the old port we have been told not to go to shore."

The pair contacted the NZ Embassy in Madrid from anchorage outside Old Port and after a day there the sailors were allowed within the port.

"The Embassy stuff have been very kind and telephoned us immediately. The NZ Embassy telephoned marina on our behalf the next day."

A view of the Canary Islands from Old Port Harbour.
A view of the Canary Islands from Old Port Harbour.

However even though they were now within the marina grounds they could not leave their yacht.

"When we arrived we were put in quarantine by Local Spanish Police for fourteen days which will end tomorrow night," Sakgun said.

"We can not go back to mainland Spain. We have to keep sailing [when the quarantine is up]."

As soon as they are free men again as of Saturday night, they will restock on supplies from the marina and then head off, and make the perilous journey all the way back to New Zealand

"We are hoping to top up our supplies and get in our way this Sunday," Sakgun said.

"The weather is looking not too bad and we are planning to sail down to Cape Verde before we catch the trade winds across Atlantic to Caribbean, then on to Panama."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

The pair then hope to sail through the Panama canal and all the way across The Pacific back home to NZ.

"We have a green light from the agent in Panama which will assist us through the canal," Sakgun said.

"We are trying to escape."