Rescued Stephen Jones' yacht found looted near Brisbane

  • 14 March 2013
  • From the section Wales
Media captionTelevision news crews reported on the yacht's recovery and ransacking

A Welsh sailor rescued with his partner in the middle of the Pacific Ocean has found his boat has been ransacked after it turned up on an Australian beach.

Stephen Jones, 52, from Llandudno Junction, and his partner Tanya Davies, 43, were saved after the vessel overturned off Tonga in November.

Having drifted 3,700km (2,000 nautical miles) their boat Windigo was found on a beach south of Brisbane.

But they saw it had been looted when they arrived from New Zealand.

They say Australian authorities insist the boat must be removed at their own cost.

The couple said they would have paid for the £40,000 ($60,000) salvage operation by selling the vessel.

But that will now be difficult due to the missing equipment and damage caused by the vessel being ransacked.

The couple are now seeking advice.

Speaking from Australia, Mr Jones said the situation has "just gone worse" since their accident.

He said they have been sending emails and calling organisations trying to find out if they are liable for the removal costs.

"We are trying to clarify the legal implications at the moment," he said.

"Basically, we should not be in Australia but looking for work.

Image caption Stephen Jones says the situation has gone from bad to worse

"We have had to put our flights on credit card just to be here."

The yacht went over in high winds 700km (435 miles) south west of Tonga and 1,260km (783 miles) from New Zealand.

The 38ft (11.6m) boat righted itself and both Mr Jones and Ms Davies managed to stay on board before being rescued and taken to safety

It turned up on a national park beach on the coast of New South Wales (NSW) on 23 February.

Mr Jones's mother Elizabeth said the couple had lost all their possessions from the boat which had been looted along with equipment.

"The whole lot has gone - everything," she said.

"By the time they got there it had been looted.

"The damage inside is very bad - outside is OK.

"They [the looters] have smashed everything up - why?"

She added: "They have been told they have to move it and it could cost $50-60,000.

"The Australians are not happy having it there."

Australian broadcaster ABC News reports that the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the NSW Water Police, Customs and the NSW Marine Park Authority are all involved in the salvage.

The Australian Customs Service has been asked to comment.

Image caption Before... the Windigo rolled over in winds of 75km/h (46mph) and was left to drift

More on this story