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Several attempts were needed to rescue three people on a yacht that began to take on water off the Bay of Islands early this morning.
A call for help was made just after midnight from the 14-metre sloop Freedom Hunter, which was on its way to Opua in the Far North from Fiji.
A yacht and container ship were diverted towards the yacht where the Northland Emergency Helicopter Trust attempted to winch salvage pumps and personnel on board, but the operation had to be abandoned due to rough conditions.
About 5am, Coastguard volunteers set out on two metre seas to try to transfer rescuers onto the yacht.
Arriving three hours later, they also found the conditions were too rough to board.
Coastguard duty officer Ray Burge said the yacht was now in safer waters.
"Bay rescue has escorted the vessel back into the shelter of Doubtless Bay.
"They're now going to tow the vessel into Maunganui Harbour and put it alongside the jetty there."
He said arrangements would be made for a local boatyard to assess the damage once the tide was out.
Everyone on board was safe but tired, having been up all night.
- By Cassandra Mason of nzherald.co.nz