Dog survives 17 days alone at sea

Dogs generally aren’t noted for their nautical ability, and you don’t often see dogs manning sail boats on the high seas, yet one dog was found as the only survivor aboard a sail boat that was lost at sea for 17 days.

The yacht, called the Tafadzwa, was found seemingly abandoned after its captain, Paul Janse van Rensburg, went missing while at sea. When the recue boat pulled alongside the yacht they were amazed to see the head of a golden retriever cross, named Juanita, pop up from the hatch.

Floyd Prendeville is one of the fishermen from the boat Legionaire, that found the Tafadzwa. He commented:

When we pulled up alongside, she poked her head out for a bit, but went down below again.

She was very wary of me, and then I just pulled her in and gave her a couple of comforting pats, and she was shaking, and then she came right.

Obviously she was looking for someone. I tried to give her a bit of water and she didn’t want water, so she wasn’t dehydrated in any way.

The dog had spent 17 days alone aboard the boat, drifting with the winds between the East Cape and the Chathams – which is over 700km south east of Napier. Somehow the dog managed to find water and food for itself when its owner, Janse van Rensburg, fell overboard and was lost at sea.

Mr Prendeville explained the moment they came up to the drifting yacht:

I’ve never come across a boat with nobody on it, drifting in the ocean, torn sails.

It was eerie going on board. I hadn’t seen the news this morning. I heard about it through talk on the island, and I just jumped on board to help out in any way I could.

When we pulled up alongside, I don’t know what I was expecting. I was hoping to see somebody, maybe.

After being recovered, Juanita was given some time to find her land legs before being taken to the constable’s house to recuperate. It is not known will happen to Juanita now as her owner’s family have not come to collect her.

Constable Kane Haerewa commented that the dog is recovering well and beginning to find her playful side again:

She’s running around with the kids. She’s a lot better than she was when we first got on the boat …

She isn’t 100 per cent – dogs aren’t really made for the sea, and two weeks or over by yourself in some pretty rugged sea, I don’t think is very easy.