Chopper plucks men from stricken yacht

By DAVID BANCROFT

dbancroft@dailyexaminer.com.au

THE Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter was used to pluck two men, believed to be aged 55 and 65, from their stricken yacht off Woody Head late yesterday.

Iluka/Yamba Coast Guard operator Gary Robinson said the men were picked from their yacht in a four-hour operation about 18 nautical miles off the coast.

They were flown to Yamba and a waiting ambulance, but both were reported to be unhurt.

Mr Robinson said the men were in a nine-metre sail catamaran that left Wooli yesterday morning and was sailing to Tweed Heads.

The Coast Guard first received a 'pan' call, which was later upgraded to a mayday.

They were experiencing 40 knot winds and swells of up to five metres.

Mr Robinson said that during their radio calls, the two men were reporting waves breaking over the boat.

He said no anchor lines were fixed to the vessel, meaning it would be adrift at least overnight.

Electronic positioning beacons were attached to the vessel so it could be tracked, he said.

A spokesman for Yamba police said the vessel got into difficulty after its steering snapped.

"They got swamped by a few big waves," he said.



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