Drifting sailboat discovered after ‘mutiny’

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When Bill Heritage, 55, was forced to vacate his 26-foot Compass sloop on March 25 during poor weather off the Kaipara Coast of New Zealand, he deemed the salvage of the vessel too expensive for its value. He needn’t have worried.

The vessel, named Air Apparent, was found by the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCCNZ) at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to The New Zealand Herald.

They informed Heritage the boat was found “in remarkable condition,” upright and drifting with its mast intact and sail dragging in the water about 210 nautical miles off North Cape, according to the report.

On March 25, the three crew with Heritage staged a minor mutiny, setting off the vessel’s EPIRB against Heritage’s wishes when the motor cut out and winds reached 25 knots (Soundings, June 2008). The RCCNZ rescued them, but had to take them by helicopter, forcing the skipper and crew to abandon ship. The insurance company initially refused to pay out for the sloop valued at about $19,500 (U.S.), but has since done so. Now, Heritage says, it is in their hands as to whether the boat will be taken ashore.

“It does go to show the yacht wasn’t going to sink under us at the time,” Heritage said in the report.

Navigational alerts will be given to vessels likely to pass Air Apparent, according to RCCNZ.

— Elizabeth Ellis