Monday, July 27, 2009


Sunday started early with movement beginning to happen around here at 5am.

We expected the helicopter at dawn but it had a mishap; the paramedic felt unwell over White Island on the journey out, and had to be returned to the mainland. The two Taupo-based pilots set out a second time and the clattering helicopter blades announced their arrival here at 9.50am.

It had been decided that we would collect Holger, the ill sailor Marika’s husband, from their yacht so he could bring ashore her bag and see her off.

That was no small task, as launching a boat from Raoul means at least a couple of hours of preparation. We have to get the inflatable out of storage, warm the motor up, drive it 3kms to Fishing Rock, attach it to the foxway wire, run it down to sea level, attach it to the derrick and swing it out into the water. There is no natural launch spot or even a safe mooring on the island.
The boat on the way down via foxway...
....and into the water on the derrick
An added problem was the question of what would happen to the yacht Pytheas while Holger was ashore. No boats are permitted to be left unattended here as rapid weather changes can lead to disaster. Our solution to this was to leave Bas there as boatsitter – he is an experienced sailor and aspiring boat owner so it was a win-win situation as far as he was concerned.
Bas's dreams come true
With the pilots fed and watered, the helicopter refuelled and Marika all psyched up, they finally left at 11.30am. Luckily for us, Gaye was not needed as an escort this time. Marika was flown to Tauranga hospital that evening, where she was admitted and her difficulties seen to.
The helicopter prepares for the long trip back to Tauranga

The two yachts sailed north this morning and hopefully all concerned will be reunited in Fiji, when Marika is well again.

In yet another weird coincidence, all this drama was accompanied by three house-rattling earthquakes. The largest was 5.6 on the Richter scale, 31.7 km deep, centred 70km south of us.

Exactly the same thing happened last time someone was helicoptered off the island.

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