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Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous

by Richard Gladwell, NZL on 16 Jun 2016
- - Platino rescue - images supplied from the Southern Lily Supplied .
Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino, say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made a rendezvous with the abandoned yacht earlier than expected.

The Facebook message says the tug, the 23.5m Sea Pelican, was making good progress. The weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook. They say the tug has arrived at the Platino's location early Friday morning.

That is about a day ahead of earlier predictions by NZ Police but more in line with Sail-World's calculations, based her speed from AIS of 7.5kts over the ground and the 370nm distance to from Whangarei to the last known position of the Platino.

The Sea Pelican is tasked with recovery of Nick Saull's body, and if possible to bring the Platino back to New Zealand. Initially Maritime NZ reported that there was plenty of diesel aboard the yacht and it may be possible for her to motor back to NZ

Wind conditions in the area, according to Predictwind are for the winds to drop a little down to a steady 20kts on Friday, swinging from the East to SE, more in line with the 10ft swell from a Southerly direction - not aligned with the wind. The swell height is only an average with periodic waves being up to 50% higher.

As Platino is in international waters, any investigation into the incident is at the discretion of the NZ authorities. Maritime NZ told Sail-World that 'Platino is an NZ registered vessel (Class B pleasure craft), so it is NZ’s jurisdiction.'

'In this instance, there is no legal obligation placed on Maritime NZ or TAIC (Transport Accident Investigation Commission) to investigate. The Coroner is lawfully required to investigate and discharges that obligation, in part, through the Police as agents to the Coroner.'

'Maritime NZ is making inquiries to establish whether there are grounds for further investigation – i.e. possible safety lessons that can be learned.'

'The process is in its very early stages. Arrangements will be made to talk to the surviving crew members when they have had time to recover.'

At the time of publication, the name of the missing crew member has not been publicly confirmed, although he has been named in social media. Maritime NZ says the timing of the announcement is the responsibility of the NZ Police.

Steve Rendle of Maritime New Zealand explained that the aerial search for the missing crew member had been maintained for two days after the Rescue Co-ordination Centre of NZ (RCCNZ) had taken 'expert advice on survival times and the search was suspended only when that time had passed.'

'Water temperature in the area was estimated at 20-22 degrees. As a guide, maximum survivability for a person in the water wearing a life jacket with a water temperature of 22 degrees is 45 hours.'

It is believed the missing crew member was only lightly clad and was not wearing a lifejacket. However this has not been confirmed. Also it has not been confirmed if any lifesaving equipment was deployed by the Platino crew at the time of the incident.

The remaining three crew members, Tory and Harry McKeogh and Ross McKee arrived back in Auckland late Wednesday night aboard the container ship Southern Lily.

The Platino incident is the third mishap resulting in loss of life involving yachts navigating in the SW Pacific in early June with shorthanded crews.

On June 2, 1994, a cruising rally en route from Auckland to Tonga, in about the same vicinity as the Platino, was hit by a weather bomb consisting of 100kt winds and 10-15 metre seas. Seven boats were abandoned, one sank, and three lives were lost.

On June 6, 1983, the yacht Lionheart was lost trying to enter Whangaroa Harbour in heavy seas in an easterly gale, and seven lives were lost.

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