High seas drama

Boating NZ - - From The Editor - Re­becca Editor

If it bleeds, it leads,” Robert Red­ford told Michelle Pfeif­fer in Up Close and Per­sonal. He was the tough jour­nal­ist, cyn­i­cal af­ter years in the job; she, the new kid ea­ger to learn. So I make no apol­ogy for the word “Fire!” on the cover this month. Sure, it will sell mag­a­zines – but that’s not the only rea­son we asked Mur­ray Vereker-bin­don to write about the dra­matic loss of his yacht be­tween Raro­tonga and Tonga.

The two off-watch crew of Sunny Deck had only sec­onds in which to wake up, grasp the sit­u­a­tion and get the hell out of there. What fol­lowed was a grip­ping tale of good de­ci­sions, lessons learned and the power of prayer. Don’t be­lieve in prayer? No doubt there are many con­verts in lif­er­afts on dark and stormy nights – es­pe­cially those lit up by an inferno fu­elled by a re­cently aban­doned boat.

Over the years I’ve cov­ered many sim­i­lar sto­ries and they of­ten con­trib­ute di­rectly to other sur­vival sto­ries. When Green Hor­net sank sud­denly in the Tas­man Sea in 1999, the crew had no time to grab the epirb which had been mounted away from the com­pan­ion­way for aes­thetic rea­sons – but they did har­ness into their lif­er­aft hav­ing read of those washed out of lif­er­afts in the 1998 Syd­ney Ho­bart Race.

Vereker-bin­don says there was never a mo­ment of panic in the lif­er­aft, but there were some par­tic­u­larly bad mo­ments. In the heav­ing sea, the lif­er­aft was ac­ci­den­tally dam­aged and, with­out read­ing glasses, the two crew who could read English were un­able to de­ci­pher the in­struc­tions for the lif­er­aft re­pair kit – so you might want to in­clude a mag­ni­fy­ing glass in your lif­er­aft’s emer­gency sup­plies.

One of my favourite pieces of ad­vice is taught on sea sur­vival cour­ses – what­ever you do, don’t fire a flare di­rectly at a res­cue air­craft. Imag­ine it, af­ter weeks adrift:“yay! We’re saved... Oh, darn.” Such sto­ries make for in­spir­ing days in the of­fice so if you’re look­ing for an in­ter­est­ing job, con­sider mine. For a long time I have said the South Is­land is call­ing me home. I’ve fi­nally an­swered the call and will be mov­ing in Oc­to­ber. I have loved be­ing back at Boating New Zealand for another term as editor; the peo­ple I work with – in­house and free­lancers, the vi­brancy of the marine in­dus­try, the chal­lenge of bring­ing to­gether the many el­e­ments that cre­ate a great mag­a­zine. I know I’m go­ing to miss it.

Mostly, I’m go­ing to miss you.

Happy boating,

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