24 Jun 2015

Sailors jump from burning yacht

6:49 pm on 24 June 2015

Two New Zealand sailors and their Mexican skipper have been rescued from a liferaft south of Niue after a fire in the engine compartment engulfed their yacht.

The 15-metre Sunny Deck was travelling from Rarotonga to Tonga when the alarm was raised via a marine rescue centre in Germany.

The two Hamilton sailors, 67 and 70, were found when the crew of a container ship spotted a distress flare early this morning.

The New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre said it was an excellent piece of seamanship to bring a 228-metre container ship alongside a liferaft in poor conditions.

The ship, the Cap Capricorn, is en route to Auckland and is due to arrive on Saturday.

Search and Rescue co-ordinator Dave Wilson told Checkpoint the cause of the fire was yet to be determined and the crew have little information about it.

He said the fire moved through the yacht at such a rapid rate the crew barely had time to activate their distress beacon before having to leave the vessel.