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Fishermen rescue yacht from Penrhyn lagoon

Thursday 20 June 2024 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Local, National, Outer Islands

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Fishermen rescue yacht from Penrhyn lagoon
SV Kermotu. Boats.com/24061911

A French yacht visiting Penrhyn this week escaped serious damage after grounding on a sea coral mount inside the island lagoon.

The incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon when SV Kermotu was exiting the passage after leaving the main village of Omoka for Te Tautua where most yachties shelter.

According to Penrhyn executive officer Puna Vano, the catamaran which arrived from Samoa and was heading for Tahiti was one of three that visited the island this week.

While the other two yachts made their way out of the tricky passage, the Martinique-flagged SV Kermotu, 14 metres in length and 7 metres wide, “tried to take a shortcut” before meeting its fate.

“What actually happened was that they didn’t follow the proper pathway inside our lagoon, the New Zealand Navy has put GPS tracking system in the lagoon. When they (yachties) come here, we always tell them to look at the GPS and follow the GPS pathway. It might take a little bit longer but it will get you out of the passage safely,” Vano said.

“Luckily for them there were two fishermen who were fishing down at the passage and when they saw the boat coming, they knew straightaway that the boat will get stuck on the coral head. They stayed back and helped them.”

The three crew members, along with the fishermen, offloaded the heavy items from the yacht. They then waited for high tide at around 6pm before getting the vessel off the coral mount and continuing their journey to Te Tautua, seeking shelter behind the island.

“They were lucky, they could have sustained a major damage to their vessel.”

Vano says they’ve received 10 yachts visiting the island so far this year. Last year, there were 19, and in 2022, due largely to Covid-related lockdowns, the island only received two.

“Our people always look forward to welcoming these yachties,” Vano said.

He said they were trying to work out a way to capitalise on these yachties visiting the island.

“I believe once our airport has been upgraded, this would give us more opportunity for development in terms of building (accommodations) by the locals and locals living abroad.”