Troubled sailor refused to alert rescue services for fear of being "another Tony Bullimore" 17/4/08

Tony Curphey of Hampshire is currently sailing around the world with his wife, Susanne Huber-Curphey, but in separate boats. When he got into trouble 700 miles off the New Zealand coast he alerted his wife – 150 miles away – but not the local rescue services, because he did not want to become “another Tony Bullimore”.

Mr Bullimore was rescued by the Australian navy five days after his yacht capsized in the Southern Ocean during the Vendee Globe in 1997. He survived on “a little chocolate, water and sheer determination” in an air pocket in the upturned hull of his yacht Exide Challenger.

Mrs Huber-Curphey, 47, said Australians still complained about how much it cost to rescue Mr Bullimore and said her husband did not want to follow in his footsteps. Mr Curphey got into difficulties when his 27ft clipper, Galenaia, started taking on water in a storm.

Mrs Huber-Curphey said: “Galenaia had sprung a leak with the skeg and rudder severely damaged and he had to pump every hour! He managed to dive to inspect the fault and support the skeg with several ropes.” Mr Curphey then radioed his wife. She explained: “His words on the radio were ‘I’d rather be rescued by Susanne than by the authorities’.”

It took her two days to reach him and she sailed past five times before managing to attach a tow line. The couple kept in contact with rescue services by radio but declined their help. It took them eight days to tow the boat to Nelson, on the South Island.