[Source: The Northern Advocate]

The discovery of an empty liferaft on a Far North beach had its finders fearing the worst – until it was found to have been washed off a yacht contesting a race to Fiji earlier this month.

Houhora police Senior Constable Tracee Knowler said several people had alerted her to the liferaft, which was big enough to take up to six people, when it washed up at Rarawa Beach late last week. One of them had taken it home for safekeeping.

Ms Knowler said such a find was always a concern because it could mean someone was in trouble at sea but no one knew.

However, the raft had been identified as coming from a yacht contesting an Auckland-Fiji race. The sailors had reported it lost on June 3 about 13 nautical miles north of Opua, so it had made good time to reach Rarawa.

Ms Knowler thanked those who had reported and looked after the raft, saying its owners would be “stoked” to get it back.

It is understood the liferaft came from the yacht C-4 which hit 35-knot winds soon after leaving Opua on June 3. The vessel broached and the raft was washed off the cabin roof.

The yacht, which was contesting the ANZ Sail Fiji 2014 cruise rally, was equipped with a second liferaft so continued to Fiji.