THE PARENTS of a Llandudno Junction man whose boat sank 500 miles off Tonga have spoken of their relief now that he is safe at home in New Zealand.
Junction-born Stephen Jones, along with his girlfriend Tania Davies, had to be rescued from his sinking yacht after it had been badly damaged by a storm while sailing through the Pacific Ocean between Tonga and New Zealand.
After sending out an SOS, Mr Jones and Ms Stevens were monitored by air patrols from the French Navy and the Royal New Zealand Air Force, which had to repeatedly return to the mainland for refueling.
They were eventually rescued by the Chengtu, a cargo ship which was sailing between Hong Kong and Los Angeles, which had to make a 15-hour diversion in order to rescue the couple.
According to the Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) said both had suffered head injuries after the 11.6m rolled during the storm, and Mr Jones had also received a back injury.
His mother Elizabeth Jones, 70, said while she and Stephen's father Eric, 73, were glad to hear their son was safe, it was sad that he had lost his boat as a result of the accident.
Speaking to the Pioneer on Monday, Mrs Jones said: "I spoke with him yesterday. They've got their lives back, but it's sad that the yacht is gone. Stephen didn't want to speak about it."
Mr Jones, who moved to Australia in 1986, bought the yacht, named Windigo, in St Maarten in 2009, with the intent of following his dream of sailing the Pacific.
He had sailed from the Carribean through Panama and had been heading for Auckland, Ms Jones' home, when the storm broke.
Mrs Jones added: "It was very hard for us at the time, and it's harder sitll now, thinking about all they have gone through."
She added Stephen's sisters Sheila, 50, and Sheryl, 46, brothers Neil 45, and Martin, 43, and grandmother Nancy Williams, 94, were also relieved to hear he was safe