Until recently the Zangano had lain idle at the wharf, in a state of disrepair. However, Ports Authority chief executive Nooroa (Bim) Tou said the new owner had been working with previous owner Keith Christian for about two or three weeks to get the yacht ready to sail.
New equipment had also been installed on the vessel, he said.
Its departure from Rarotonga closes another chapter in the Australian-registered yacht’s controversial history.
The 54-foot steel-hulled vessel first featured in CI News when it arrived from American Samoa in September last year minus a woman crew member, said to be Lissette Brito, a 44-year-old Venezuelan woman.
The yacht’s owner and skipper, Alex Roehrs, told local police that after Brito has disappeared he had searched for her for a couple of hours before getting too low on fuel to continue. He sailed on to Rarotonga, crashing into a moored ship as he entered Avatiu harbour.
Roehrs was employed by the Business Trade Investment Board (BTIB) as an IT consultant as he waited on the island for a police investigation into Brito’s disappearance to be completed.
CINews has questioned the BTIB’s chief executive about Roehr’s employment but it has never been explained how Roehrs came to work there, whether he had a work permit, and why someone under police investigation had been employed in a position where he may have had access to sensitive documents.
The police investigation came up empty-handed and in February this year, Roehrs sailed the yacht out of Avatiu, later putting out a distress call saying he had run into a submerged object 24 nautical miles out to sea. Police who came to the rescue aboard the patrol boat Te Kukupa are said to have discovered evidence of Roehrs deliberately trying to sink the Zangano.
He then sold the yacht to Christian in return for an airline ticket to Chile.
In May, Christian said he had sold the boat for $25,000 and a new owner would be arriving “in a few months’ time” to take it out of the water and repair it.
In September, Tou confirmed the yacht, which by then was looking neglected, with its blue paint peeling, would be “removed” from the harbour before the cyclone season started.