Once we had returned to Opua, we readied Fallado for the trip back up to the tropics. Departing in late May, we are carried quickly northwards by fresh southwesterly winds. En route we decide to stop off at Raoul Island, a nature and marine reserve administered by New Zealand's Department of Conservation. While we are there, we hear a storm is heading rapidly towards us. If we put to sea, it's hundreds of miles to a more secure anchorage, so we elect to stay, hoping to gain some protection by staying in the lee of the island's steep cliffs. The storm increases in intensity to such an extent that the largest rescue operation in the South Pacific is launched. Eleven yachts put out distress calls, seven boats are abandoned, their crews are plucked to safety in spectacular rescue operations. Sadly the three crew of one yacht are never found. We manage to come through the 1994 June "Queen's Birthday" Storm relatively unscathed, but for three days and three nights we go without sleep as we battle to keep Fallado in the protection of Raoul, with hurricane force winds clocking right around us.
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