Dramatic photos have revealed just how close two Australians and a British man came to disaster after their boat began to sink in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Cousins Chris and Kevin Doran, along with their shipmate Ben Johnson, were travelling from Vanuatu to the Gold Coast when their boat struck a tug rope waters off New Caledonia on Thursday morning.
As their yacht started taking on water, the three sailors were forced to flee into a tiny life raft before sending out a desperate mayday call.
The calls were picked up by officials who notified the nearby Pacific Dawn cruise ship, plucking the sailors out from the ocean and bringing them back home to Brisbane for an emotional reunion with their families on Saturday morning.
Officials asked the Pacific Dawn cruise ship to divert and rescue the men, when their boat began to sink after hitting a tug rope (pictured sailors being rescued)
The seasoned sailors were cramped onto a tiny life raft after their yacht, Liberty, began to sink (pictured: Ben Johnson on the raft)
‘There’s always a risk there, but I believe the risk was fairly low as we were very confident in our safety equipment and our procedures,’ Chris Doran (pictured on raft) said of the ordeal
Ben Johnson (left), Chris Doran (middle) and Kevin Doran (right) had to flee their yacht into a life raft, waiting anxiously for the Pacific Dawn crew to rescue them
Speaking with reporters on Saturday morning, Chris and Kevin Doran said they couldn’t wait to be reunited with their families after the traumatic ordeal.
‘Never been happier to get home,’ Chris said.
Despite being cramped onto the life raft, the seasoned sailors were confident they would be able to keep afloat.
‘There’s always a risk there, but I believe the risk was fairly low as we were very confident in our safety equipment and our procedures,’ Mr Doran said.
The sailors yacht, Liberty, (pictured as it began to sink) was struck by the tug rope, and began sinking in the water as the sailors fled
Chris Doran had spent years travelling on the yacht, Liberty, (pictured) including a recent visit to Hobart with his cousin Kevin.
The sailors had been travelling for three months before they found themselves in trouble (pictured Ben Johnson talking with the crew of the Pacific Dawn)
The rescued sailors spoke with reporters on Saturday morning following the traumatic ordeal (pictured from left to right, Kevin Doran, Chris Doran, Captain Alan Dockery and Ben Johnson)
‘Initially we thought we might have hit a reef but that wasn’t the case,’ Chris Doran told AAP.
‘We found quite a large ship’s rope, there was about 50 metres of it and it wrapped around both propellers causing a breach in the hull, the boat started taking on water.’
Once onboard the cruise ship, the men were treated like celebrities as dozens of passengers asked for photos and were even given shoes by the ship’s crew.
The heroic captain of the Pacific Dawn said it was a ‘no brainer’ to rush to the rescue of the striken sailors.
‘It was a no-brainer, we had to go and help them, but fortunately they were on the route so we didn’t have to turn back,’ Captain Alan Dockeray said.
‘It was good fortune that we were so close and that the operation was so well coordinated by the marine rescue authorities in Noumea,’ he said in a statement.
At the time of the sinking, Mr Doran said he knew he had no choice but to abandon his beloved yacht, throwing food and safety equipment into the raft (pictured: Chris and Kevin Doran after docking at Brisbane)
Once onboard the cruise ship, the men were treated like celebrities as dozens of passengers asked for photos (pictured: sailors onboard the Pacific Dawn)
‘The hotel operations team has also done a wonderful job making our unexpected guests as comfortable as possible following their ordeal.
‘We couldn’t be happier than to be returning them to their families safe and well.’
Chris Doran had spent years travelling on the yacht, Liberty, including a recent visit to Hobart with his cousin Kevin.
At the time of the sinking, Mr Doran said he knew he had no choice but to abandon his beloved yacht, throwing food and safety equipment into the raft.
‘I wasn’t worried about the boat because we couldn’t save it, there was no way we could’ve saved it,’ he said, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
‘(There’s) a lot of memories with the family and it was a beautiful boat,’ Chris said.
‘Sad to see it go.’
The sailors were finally able to return to dry land in Brisbane on Saturday morning. pictured: Sailors Chris Doran (left), cousin Kevin (middle) and Ben Johnson (right) with members from the Pacific Dawn cruise ship
The trio were travelling from Venatua to the Gold Coast before they hit trouble but fortunately the cruise ship was close enough to rescue them (pictured: sailors with the crew of the Pacific Dawn)
The sailors were able to call their families and tell them they were safe once onboard the Pacific Dawn (pictured: Chris Doran before their boat sank)
The Pacific Dawn had 2000 holidayers on board at the time of the rescue.
The sailors were found bobbing in an orange life raft around 100 metres from their submerged yacht.
Once on board, they phoned their families to tell them they were safe.
Left: The men float in a life raft 100m from their sunken yacht. Right: The men climb from Pacific Dawn’s ancillary vessel on to the main ship, aided by three staff members in blue hats
The three sailors made a distress call after their boat started picking up water (pictured: The men in a life raft (right) being picked up by rescuers)
‘It was a no-brainer, we had to go and help them’ Pacific Dawn’s captain Alan Dockeray said (pictured: Pacific Dawn cruise ship)