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Dun Laoghaire Sailor Rescued off Sydney, Family Praise Australian Rescue Services

8th March 2017
Nick Dwyer onboard his yacht VAL Nick Dwyer onboard his yacht VAL

A Dun Laoghaire sailor said he encountered 'waves the size of buildings' as he awaited rescue on their broken yacht off the coast of Sydney.  

Former Royal St. George Yacht Club sailor Nick Dwyer and Frenchwoman Barbara Heftman arrived safely in Balmain on Wednesday night aboard a NSW Police rescue vessel with the "absolute heroes" who travelled more than 200 nautical miles in treacherous seas to save them.

In Dublin, Dwyer's family have praised the 'extraordinary work of the Australian rescue services'. Brother James and sister Sarah both spoke to Afloat.ie this afternoon of their 'sheer relief' in knowing the pair were safe. 

Sarah Dwyer of Greystones Sailing Club and a director of the Irish Sailing Association said she had only just learned the news about Nick (54), who had grown up sailing in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. 

VALNick Dwyer’s yacht VAL was capsized off the coast of Sydney. Photo: Nick Dwyer

Dwyer and Heftman were experienced sailors and had been sailing from New Zealand to Australia in a 12-metre vessel as part of a 10-year circumnavigation of the globe when the yacht's rudder broke on Saturday.

In Sydney, Dwyer told Jodie Stephens Australian Associated Press 'We owe the rescue services our lives'. The full story from news.com.au is here.

The pair activated the yacht's emergency radio beacon three days later, on Tuesday afternoon, after their yacht "rolled" during a heavy swell and high winds.

VAL wreckNikc Dwyer, an Irish long distance voyager and his French companion have been rescued unharmed off the coast of New South Wales after their ketch became disabled in heavy weather with the failure of the rudder. Photo courtesy Channel 9 News

"Barbara and I were waiting after the boat turned upside down, holding each other, thinking for a split second that seemed to last for an eternity, 'is she going to turn upright?'" Mr Dwyer told reporters in Sydney.

Each time another wave hit, the couple wondered if the sea would ultimately claim their lives.

"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," Mr Dwyer said.
Nemesis set off in response to their emergency beacon on Tuesday night and reached the yacht - some 210 nautical miles north-east of Sydney - on Wednesday morning in six-metre swells and gale-force southerly winds.

"It was truly amazing, to think that somebody had come that far to save us," Dwyer said.

The pair were transferred to the Nemesis by a container ship, the ANL Elanora, while their yacht was left to drift at sea.

Mr Dwyer said the yacht had been their home for the past 10 years and they weren't sure what they would do next.
"Our home's gone, we're alive, I expect to live a little bit longer and that'll be okay," he said

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