A 40-year old South African sailor, Paul Janse van Rensburg, set out from the port of Tauranga, New Zealand on his yacht, Tafadzwa, on March 12.
He was due to arrive in Gisborne two days later but didnt. An extensive search started the day after he was due to arrive, but was called off within three days. TVNZ reported that it is believed that Van Rensburg might have fallen over board the first day.
On Sunday afternoon, March 28, the drifting ghost yacht was spotted near the Chatham Islands, 110 km from land, by a New Zealand Air Force Orion plane.
The plane was on a training flight. The pilot diverted a nearby fishing boat to the area. The seas were too high to attempt to board it then, but they boarded the next morning, reported News24.
Reportedly the boat was set on autopilot, sails on the 11-metre steel-hulled Tafadzwa were ripped to pieces but the life raft, emergency beacon and kayak were still on board.
Also onboard was Pauls dog, Juanita.
Fisherman Floyd Prenderville who went on board at daybreak when the seas had calmed, told New Zealands TV3 news that Juanita "was quite shaken, but we gave her a few pats and a reassuring cuddle and she came right."
According to the News24, the fishing boat towed the stricken yacht, with Juanita aboard, to the Chatham Islands.
New Zealand's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said Juanita's supposed 16-day ordeal was the longest surviving dog story it had known.
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