By Amanda Gillies
A couple who damaged their yacht helping a stricken vessel near Tonga almost a fortnight ago have finally made it home to a heroes' welcome.
Bruce and Marcelle Parsons sailed their yacht into Opua last night after having to hand-steer it 24 hours a day for a week.
The boat is called Adventure Bound, but the couple say it won’t have that name for much longer.
“The name is going to get changed," says Mr Parsons. "There is no word 'adventure' in the next name of the boat."
They've had enough adventure for a while. The couple were sailing back to New Zealand when they heard another yacht was badly damaged near Tonga, so they diverted to help, but that meant battling through a massive storm of 10m waves and 50-knot winds.
“We were taking quite a lot of water inside the boat through the hatchways, so we turned it around at night, which was difficult, then waited until about six in the morning [and] tried to sail downwind," says Mr Parsons. "It was very, very hairy."
But they managed to get to Aucklander Tania Davies and her partner Steve Jones, and stayed with them until they could be rescued by a Chinese cargo ship.
“What they did in the true sense of seamanship [is] bloody heroic,” says supporter Kevin Burnell.
Another supporter, Bob Johnson, agrees.
“They diverted into some really strong seas in a big storm, something that we would call heroic. [It’s] a really tough, tough passage. They went up and stood by that boat until a big ship could come and take them off.”
Mr Parsons says it was wise Ms Davies and Mr Jones opted to go on the big ship and not stay with them.
“It would have been cold, wet and uncomfortable, and we had a difficult decision who was going to get the toilet paper because there wasn't enough for four adults,” he says.
A week ago Ms Davies and her partner arrived back in Auckland safely, all the while Bruce and Marcelle battled their way back, using hand rudders after their wind vane was smashed by the storm.
Opua ensured a heroes' welcome, but what the couple probably appreciated most was $100 in $2 coins for showers and washing.