Shane Fredericks soon got into trouble when a rear stay snapped on the Zangano and his auto-pilot broke down. The vessel’s steering was also disabled when a rudder bolt came loose, allowing sea water into the boat.
He activated a distress beacon when huge ocean swells threatened to sink the vessel. A rescue mission coordinated from New Zealand then dispatched a crew aboard Te Kukupa to his rescue in the Niue Exclusive Economic Zone. The total cost of the rescue mission incurred by the Cook Islands Police Service has been estimated at $35,000, for fuel and personnel alone.
Shane Fredericks told CINews in an interview following his rescue by the crew of Te Kukupa that he was attracted to a “picture-perfect” shot of the yacht on a TradeMe advertisement. However, he also said he hoped to work on the vessel in Rarotonga to improve its seaworthiness before sailing back to New Zealand. The boat was subsequently unable to be lifted out of Avatiu harbour and he later decided to sail the yacht back to New Zealand to avoid cyclone season.
This was against the strong advice of Christian. In an email sent by Christian to Fredericks on September 17, and forwarded to CINews, he warned the boat’s new owner, that not having a working motor could pose a serious danger if a crew member fell overboard.
He wrote to Fredricks, “I’m concerned about you leaving here in a boat you don’t know, with no engine, and only one crew. I’m very sure the boat is capable, but it will be the people that will let the trip fail (sic).
No engine is no problem, unless someone falls over, then you can find yourself in trouble.”
Christian told Fredricks that without a motor, it could take up to an hour to turn the yacht around, locate, and stop to save someone lost in the ocean. And if it was at night and the person in the sea was unconscious, it would further impact any potential rescue effort.
Christian said in the email that in his opinion, on a first ocean voyage you’d need at least three to four people on a boat of that capacity. He warned that it was a 24-day non-stop voyage to New Zealand, and that tiredness and fatigue could be a big problem. A strict watch shift roster would be necessary.
Fredericks says the engine wasn’t inoperable, but didn’t, however, have a starter-motor that worked when he set sail alone.
Christian also itemised a long list of safety equipment Fredericks should seriously consider taking, including, he says: “A sat phone, life jackets, life raft (we got expired one), GPS x2, flares (we got expired one), water, food (no working fridge) so dehydrated food maybe, batteries x3 and some way to charge them, VHF, fishing gear, safety harnesses, auto pilot (got that here), torches (batteries spare), EPERBs, bilge pumps spare, gland packing, bucket, fire extinguisher, life rings, tools, knives, first aid and lots more I can’t think of (sic).”
Fredericks did have a life raft at the ready and also used flares in his rescue.
The boat was bought by Christian in February from the previous owner, Alexander MacKinnon Roehrs, reportedly for the cost of an airfare to South America.
Rohers sold the Zangano following a police investigation into the presumed death of Lissette Brito, a 43-year-old Chilean woman who went missing from the yacht when it sailed from Samoa to Rarotonga.
The boat was advertised earlier this year on TradeMe for $25,000, and was subsequently purchased by the 53-year-old drainlayer from New Lynn, Auckland for an undisclosed sum.
Fredericks was going to sail the boat back to New Zealand with his girlfriend, whom he identified as “Marie”. But following a fight over the voyage she flew home instead, saving her from being involved in the nautical disaster.
It’s not the first time Christian has purchased a boat with a dark past. He also snapped up a 36-foot sloop called Bonny in 2012, that was thought to have been owned by an on-the-run child sex offender from New Zealand, who many Cook Islanders believe faked his own death.
Christian bought that boat from the Cook Islands police for $2,000 after it was impounded.