Family safe as boat limps to port
Monday April 17, 2000

A New Zealand family whose yacht was missing in the Pacific Ocean for a day and a half were last night heading for Norfolk Island.

The 20m yacht Longfellow was found about 35km west of Norfolk Island at 6.20 pm by an RNZAF Orion aircraft.

On board were Eric Lescot, aged 31, Janey Rameka, 28, and a 2-year-old boy, Avellino Lescot, all of Whangaparaoa, just north of Auckland.

Emma Peel, a spokeswoman for the National Rescue Coordination Centre in Wellington, said the Orion flew to the yacht after the trio made contact with a private radio operator on Norfolk Island about 5.20 pm.

The yacht's engine had overheated and its mainsail was damaged, she said. It was limping towards the island, travelling at about 4 knots.

The Orion was flying above it until a Government launch from Norfolk Island arrived.

The emergency began after a mayday call from the yacht was picked up about 11.30 am on Saturday.

"At the same time we picked up emergency beacon signals, but they were very short-lived. We only got a couple of hits," said Ms Peel.

The yacht was understood to be midway between New Caledonia and Norfolk Island.

The Longfellow was sailing from Noumea to Opua in the Bay of Islands.

Harold Bennett, racing manager of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, said last night that the Longfellow was well known in harbour-racing circles. It had been registered with the squadron until about six years ago when he understood it was sold to owners in Noumea.

A French Navy Guardian jet from Noumea and an Australian Air Force Hercules from New South Wales also took part in the weekend search.