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No communication from yacht prior to arrival

Wednesday 8 December 2021 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Economy, National


No communication from yacht prior to arrival
The yacht named Pebbles that arrived unannounced at Avatiu Harbour on Monday. 21120707

The yacht Pebbles that anchored at Avatiu Harbour on Monday left at 4.50pm and has not returned, says secretary of transport, John Hosking.

It was crewed by a male Bulgarian national who has been at sea for 30 days, the man came from French Polynesia and was on the way to Fiji.

Hosking said the man entered the harbour without approval.

“There was no communication whatsoever, he just turned up,” Hosking said.

The man - who is also unvaccinated – first arrived unannounced at 7am on Monday and was told to turn around by authorities.

He then returned in the afternoon.

Hosking said authorities first tried to communicate with him via radio but there was no response.

He said a team from the Ministry of Transport approached the man on a boat from a safe distance, while wearing full personal protective equipment, to try to convince the man to leave.

“He said that he had an engine problem, but he managed to get into the harbour on his own engine, and then when he was told to leave, he actually departed on his own engine and then did a 360 degree turn and came back in.”

Hosking said with the border being closed, the MOT has been very strict.

“We need to protect our borders, whether its aviation or whether it's maritime.

“As far as we're concerned he has gone, the incident, we have dealt with it.”

Hosking said under the Covid-19 maritime border regulations, there was some allowance for people requiring humanitarian aid, however, the person did not fall under this category, because of the lack of communication he had with authorities.

“They (sailors) are very aware of what the border rules are.

“At the end of the day we've got to be really vigilant on arrivals, especially yachts.”

He said if another incident like this occurred, the ministry’s position would not change and they would ask the crew to leave the Cook Islands.