‘Miracle phone text’ in ‘seas of hell’

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As he and two friends struggled to sail their disabled vessel away from the boiling surf off the treacherous west coast of northern New Zealand, Kiwi yacht skipper Pete Deakin told the New Zealand Herald he never felt so near to becoming shipwrecked.

Sails ripped to shreds by gale-force winds, their engine seized, the trio had brought the 40-foot ketch Cheval de Mer in close to the notorious Kaipara Harbour bar in a desperate attempt to get cellphone coverage to alert family of their plight.

"I realized we were in trouble and needed to let people know what was happening. That was our only hope ... to let people know," Deakin said.

But as the yacht rocked and rolled in angry 13- to 20-foot seas, and Deakin set off the yacht's emergency locator beacon, came what seemed to the crew was a miracle.

The cell phone of a crewmember suddenly came to life after days of silence in a reception dead zone.

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