Yacht hits reef

Sail-world's Rob Kothe reports on the latest from the Melbourne-Osaka two handed race

Monday March 31st 2003, Author: Rob Kothe, Location: Australasia
A Japanese Ice Breaker this afternoon reached a yacht carrying two Sydney sailors, which is holed and high on fringing coral reefs off Rossell Island on the south eastern tip of Papua New Guinea.

Owner skipper 49 year old Jim Murchison and crew 54 year old Jeff Thomas were sailing north towards Bougainville on their 12 metre ocean racer Mad Max, when they struck the
reef at 2:45 am Monday morning. Both sailors are uninjured and in no immediate danger.

Hitting the reef on a rising tide the vessel was holed and started taking water.

Mad Max activated their Emergency Beacon (EPIRB) and AuSAR in Canberra managed to reach the crew by HF radio within a short time, after Taupo Radio in New Zealand heard their Distress transmissions.

At 8:15am this morning, the 11,600 tonne Japanese icebreaker Shirase, returning from an Antarctic research mission, advised they were 150 miles south of the stricken vessel and were steaming at high speed to render assistance.

AuSAR (Australian Search And Rescue) spokesman Brian Willey advised that the Japanese vessel had reached the vicinity but were unable to affect a rescue due to
difficult sea conditions and failing light.

Shirase is standing by the stricken vessel and expects to be able to rescue the sailors at first light, with a rigid inflatable boat. Both sailors are uninjured and in no immediate danger.

Shirase is en route to Japan, after revictualling in Sydney from its summer expedition to Japan's Showa Base in Antarctica.

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