Irishman Nick Dwyer, 55, and Frenchwoman Barbara Heftman, 44, were sailing from New Zealand to Australia and they faced “waves the size of buildings” when their yacht broke in remote seas off Australia.
Australian police rescued the pair 210 nautical miles (390km) off Sydney amid 6m swells and gale-force winds. The experienced sailors had been on a 10-year circumnavigation of the globe in a 12-metre vessel and said they owed their lives to their rescuers.
The sailors, on a circumnavigation of the globe, had activated an emergency beacon in turbulent seas on Tuesday, three days after their rudder broke.
“We encountered enormous seas, waves the size of buildings coming at you constantly, winds that you can’t stand up in, seas breaking, whiteness everywhere,” Mr Dwyer said. After receiving the distress call, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) sent a jet to the remote location before asking police for help.
New South Wales Police said it took their rescue boat more than 13 hours to reach the pair amid “treacherous conditions”.
“It was truly amazing, to think that somebody had to come that far to save us,” Mr Dwyer said after arriving in Sydney on Wednesday night. “I owe them my life. We owe them our lives. You can’t put that into words.“