30 Aug 2009

NZ man rescued after yacht skipper falls overboard

11:47 am on 30 August 2009

A New Zealand man has been rescued after the skipper of the yacht he was travelling on disappeared, presumed to have fallen overboard.

Alexander McDonald, 65, from Canterbury, had joined Briton David Parkinson, whom he'd met in the Cook Islands, on board his yacht Santana on a trip from Rarotonga to Nuku'alofa.

Tonga's police commander, Chris Kelley, says Mr McDonald told rescuers that when he woke to take over the watch from the skipper, Mr Parkinson had disappeared.

He says Mr McDonald believes the British man must have fallen over the side and was lost at sea.

Mr Kelley says Mr McDonald is "no sailor", but tried to search for the British man, going round in ever-decreasing circles for just over three days, before he set off the emergency beacon. He was picked up by the Tonga Defence Service.

Mr Kelley says there is little chance David Parkinson, who had medical problems, will be found alive, because it has been more than a week since he went missing. Mr McDonald is free to return home, he says.