Two sailors were rescued from the choppy waters of the Tasman Sea on 8 March after their yacht capsized off the coast of Australia. An Irishman and a Frenchwoman were making their way from Australia to New Zealand, when the rudder of their vessel broke and a large wave overturned the boat, leaving them stranded at sea, 20 nautical miles east of the coast of Sydney.
Nick Dwyer and Barbara Heftman, both experienced sailors, said they were starting to lose hope of being rescued when the Australian authorities found them. "Every wave that hit you, we're wondering: is this the one that's going to take you out? We weren't at all confident of coming through that and we were looking death in the eye, frankly," Dwyer told Australia's Nine Network.
The 12m yacht's rudder broke on 4 March and three days later, they activated the emergency beacon after heavy swells caused their boat to roll. "We encountered enormous seas, waves the size of buildings coming at you constantly, winds that you can't stand up in and seas breaking, whiteness everywhere," he said of the ordeal.
Responding to their emergency beacon on Tuesday night, New South Wales Police boat Nemesis came to their rescue the next morning despite 6m swells and gale-force southerly winds.
"There's a crew of guys who were not on duty and all volunteered, knowing what sort of seas they were going out to, to rescue two complete strangers," Dwyer said, referring to the rescue team as heroes. "It was truly amazing, to think that somebody had come that far to save us."
Dwyer (55) and Heftman (44) had spent the past 10 years on their yacht, as part of a circumnavigation of the globe. Australian police were unable to save the vessel and the couple are now unsure on how to move ahead. "Our home's gone, we're alive, I expect to live a little bit longer and that'll be okay," the Irishman said, expressing hopes that the boat will drift to the coast soon.