‘ We are safe and well’

Ex-wife de­lighted pair have been found safe, write Tess Ni­chol and Belinda Feek

The New Zealand Herald - - FRONT PAGE - — ad­di­tional re­port­ing Kurt Bayer

Aus­tralian au­thor­i­ties are ques­tion­ing New Zealand sailor Alan Lang­don af­ter the 49-year-old ar­rived in the New South Wales coastal town of Ul­ladulla with his six-year-old daugh­ter Que on a tiny cata­ma­ran. Lang­don left Kawhia on De­cem­ber 17, telling friends he was tak­ing Que to see friends in the Bay of Is­lands. But the pair van­ished and de­spite ex­ten­sive po­lice searches did not reap­pear un­til yes­ter­day — 1300 nau­ti­cal miles from Kawhia — when he was recog­nised from posters put up in the NSW fish­ing set­tle­ment. Lang­don said yes­ter­day one of the cata­ma­ran’s rud­ders broke early in the jour­ney. “We were al­ways safe, we just couldn’t let any­one know,” he said.

Yachts­man Alan Lang­don is be­ing ques­tioned by Aus­tralian po­lice af­ter he and his 6-year-old daugh­ter were found yes­ter­day in a New South Wales fish­ing town.

Lang­don, 49, and daugh­ter Que left Kawhia Har­bour on De­cem­ber 17 bound for the Bay of Is­lands. They had not been heard from un­til yes­ter­day when New Zealand po­lice con­firmed the pair had been lo­cated in Ul­ladulla.

Lang­don told the Mil­ton Ul­ladulla Times that he was forced to sail most of the way with one rud­der af­ter one of his cata­ma­ran’s two rud­ders broke.

He said he and Que were “safe and well. We were al­ways safe, we just couldn’t let any­one know”. He said Que was “happy”.

"We had plenty of food and saw lots of whales," he told the Times.

Lang­don was look­ing for­ward to a night in a mo­tel for some much­needed rest.

They were recog­nised by a lo­cal who alerted Aus­tralian au­thor­i­ties.

Speak­ing to the Her­ald, child re­cov­ery ex­pert Col Chap­man said Que’s mother, Ari­ane Wyler, was “over the moon” her daugh­ter had been found safe and well.

“She is thrilled . . . she couldn’t be hap­pier,” he said.

Wyler was cur­rently in Switzer­land car­ing for her sick mother and it was not yet clear whether she would fly to Aus­tralia or New Zealand to meet her daugh­ter.

Wyler en­listed the help of Chap­man to lo­cate her daugh­ter and her es­tranged hus­band.

Chap­man said Lang­don wouldn’t have been in Ul­ladulla for more than two or three days.

An Ul­ladulla res­i­dent spot­ted the pair af­ter see­ing posters which Chap­man’s group put in ports, yacht clubs and coastal towns from Vic­to­ria to Queens­land.

“They went to Alan and Que and said ‘ you guys were all over the in­ter­net’.”

Cus­toms and immigration of­fi­cials ar­rived at that point, tak­ing the pair away for ques­tion­ing.

Chap­man said depend­ing on how long of­fi­cial pro­cesses took, Lang­don and Que might be held in Aus­tralia for weeks.

The cir­cum­stances of their de­par­ture from New Zealand would also be looked at be­cause Que’s pass­port had been seized by the courts, Chap­man said.

“He should be fac­ing bor­der and immigration charges in Aus­tralia and he should be fac­ing sim­i­lar charges in New Zealand.”

New Zealand po­lice are li­ais­ing with their coun­ter­parts in Aus­tralia and await­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about Lang­don’s jour­ney.

An ex­ten­sive search was con­ducted of sea and coastal ar­eas be­tween Welling­ton, Cape Reinga and the Bay of Is­lands. New Zealand po­lice called off their mas­sive air and sea search last Tues­day.

NZ po­lice would as­sess all the in­for­ma­tion be­fore any fur­ther steps were con­sid­ered and agreed, they said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

The alarm was raised on Box­ing Day by Kawhia woman Mary Smith, who had opened her house to the Lang­dons.

The pos­si­bil­ity that Lang­don had sailed to Aus­tralia, not the Bay of Is­lands, had al­ways been con­sid­ered, po­lice said.

Lang­don, a stay-at-home dad, built the cata­ma­ran the pair sailed in on Smith’s front lawn.

Smith de­scribed Lang­don as a com­pe­tent boat­man who doted on his daugh­ter: “She was his best mate.”

Chap­man said he im­me­di­ately thought that Lang­don had made a dash for Aus­tralia in the 6m white wooden Tiki cata­ma­ran.

Lang­don, Chap­man un­der­stood, had told oth­ers the boat was ca­pa­ble of reach­ing Aus­tralia.

“He’s an­nounced to many peo­ple, friends, fam­ily, that this boat will make it to Aus­tralia and back 10 times, no prob­lem,” Chap­man said.

“Some peo­ple say the boat was [stocked with] stores for over 30 days.”

Wyler said she sep­a­rated from Lang­don last year and had been in a long bat­tle to see her daugh­ter.

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