A New Zealand father and daughter missing at sea for four weeks turned up safely on Australia’s South Coast on Wednesday.
Alan Langdon and his daughter Que spent 27 days sailing across the treacherous Tasman Sea in a 20-foot catamaran with a broken rudder, sparking an international manhunt for the pair, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The 46-year-old Langdon set said from Kawhia Harbor on New Zealand’s North Island on Dec. 17, according to the paper. Langdon had been in the middle of a custody battle for his daughter with his wife Ariane Wyler, according to the New Zealand Herald.
The Herald reported Wyler hired Col Chapman, a child recovery expert to track down the pair. Wyler previously asked Chapman to help track down her estranged husband and daughter and he found them living in rural Australia.
“We were always safe, we just couldn't let anyone know," Langdon told reporters. "I tell you I learnt a lot about sailing."
A resident from Ulladulla, Australia spotted Langdon and his daughter after seeing photos of them on posts. They were found three days after landing on the western shores of Australia.
It’s unclear whether Langdon is facing charges. Chapman told the New Zealand Herald that he should be facing “immigration charges in Australia and he should be facing similar charges in New Zealand.”
Wyler told the paper that her and Langdon separated last year and were in the midst of a custody battle for their daughter. Langdon had built the catamaran and was sure it could reach Australia.
The family had been out at sea when they got caught in the middle of Cyclone Pam in March 2015. Langdon and a friend saved his daughter’s life during the ordeal, but Langdon and Wyler split up after the incident.
|A father disappeared from New Zealand with his 6-year-old daughter shortly before a custody hearing, then survived a weeks-long sea journey with a broken rudder. (Photo: Jayne Clark, USA TODAY)|
Dad and daughter turn up after 27 days at sea
A father disappeared from New Zealand with his 6-year-old daughter shortly before a custody hearing, then survived a weeks-long sea journey with a broken rudder.
Alan Langdon showed up Wednesday in Australia after 27 days at sea aboard a homemade, 19-foot boat, the Times of London reports. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Langdon didn't tell anyone where he was going when he set sail with his daughter Que. That left Que's mother, Ariane Wyler, to hire a child recovery specialist to look for them.
It wasn't the first time Wyler had hired Col Chapman; the specialist had previously found Langdon and Que living in rural Australia, the New Zealand Herald reports. He figured correctly they were probably heading that way again, though one of the catamaran's rudders broke four days into the trip, leaving Langdon to steer with just one.
Langdon and Que crossed 1,200 miles of "treacherous" sea while the New Zealand air force searched for them.
"We were always safe, we just couldn't let anyone know," Langdon later said. "I tell you I learnt a lot about sailing."
When he and Que turned up in a seaside Australian town, they were quickly recognized by local sailors from photos disseminated by Chapman. Officials took father and daughter in for questioning, and Chapman says Langdon should face charges in both New Zealand and Australia.
Wyler hasn't seen Que in nearly two years and is fighting for the right to do so. Langdon says his daughter was "happy" on the trip; they "saw lots of whales." (Inside an American's mysterious disappearance at sea.)