If you heard about Tachyon Hutt’s voyage across Cook Strait from a mate at the pub, you would be forgiven for thinking it was too outlandish to be true.
And although it sounds like something you might read in a Barry Crump novel, it truly happened and, despite rumours online, it was not for a Tinder date.
The 18-year-old was the talk of the nation last week after his motorised dinghy broke down off the Mana Coast after crossing Cook Strait overnight.
Hutt set off from Kenepuru Sound, in the centre of the Marlborough Sounds, at 10pm on Wednesday bound for Porirua. He nearly made it.
After motoring throughout the night, the outboard powering the three-metre wooden dinghy broke down and Hutt was forced to call for help.
He tried to get to shore manually, spending about an hour rowing but he soon became tired and called for a tow.
“I was completely comfortable the whole way. I knew what I was doing,” Hutt said when asked if he was scared at any point of the voyage.
“Seven times I’ve crossed the Cook Strait, by my own means that is, I’ve crossed more times with the ferry.
“It wasn’t really much of a rescue, it was more of a tow-in to save my energy.”
The conditions on the water were not great for a dinghy, MetService said, with winds of up to 20 knots – around 40km/h.
The swell was almost non-existent, only about 1m, but the conditions got a bit rough in patches, Hutt told police last week.
Although the Strait could be a dangerous stretch of water, Hutt would not be fussed to make the journey again.
He revealed he was making the journey for personal family reasons.
“I was on a mission and nothing was going to stop me; it was for family and it had to be done. I had to find my brother,” he said.
“I just had to do it and all the family up here I’ve got are calling me a hero for doing it, now that they know why but I can’t say, sorry.”
Starting at Kenepuru Sound, Hutt travelled through Pelorus Sound and made a beeline for the Mana Coast on the North Island.
Two fishing rods were on the back of the boat but Hutt said there was no time to stop to drop a line.
Wellington Maritime Police Senior Sergeant Dave Houston told the Herald last week Hutt’s journey was the perfect example of what not to do on the water.
When Greater Wellington Harbourmaster Grant Nalder received the call, he initially thought it was a hoax.
“He’s lacked preparation to do essentially a 100km voyage in a dinghy,” Houston said.
“In his situation, he didn’t check the weather forecast and, lucky for him, it was probably the best weather conditions you could actually get.
“Strong tides go through the channel; lots of rips and unsettled water. It’s all quite unpredictable and can change at the drop of a hat.”
Hutt was wearing a lifejacket and took his cellphone with him. Luckily it had enough power for him to call emergency services for help.
Police were able to geolocate Hutt using the cellphone; they found him about 12km west of Mana Island.
The Westpac Rescue helicopter was able to direct maritime police to him and a “saturated” teenager was picked up and taken to shore, Houston said.
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Now in Petone with his brother, Hutt’s immediate focus was trying to relocate his house boat, the HMNZS Parore, to Wellington.
Hutt had restored the former New Zealand Navy 21m warship and had been living onboard with his family.
He said he did not tell anyone about his journey before setting off.
Low on funds and not working, Hutt had started a fundraiser on Facebook in an attempt to get the money to relocate the Parore.
Since the rescue – or towing in Hutt’s eyes – he had been flooded with positive and negative messages from the public.
“There are some really judgmental people out there, you know, and they just have to deal with that, it’s not my problem,” Hutt said with a chuckle.
The motivation behind the voyage was for his family’s benefit and Hutt hoped when people heard his story they might look up to him.
“I’m Kiwi-as and I’ve done a good thing. This hasn’t been a bad thing, I did this for my family,” he said.
“I want people to look up to me and just know they can do whatever they want, they’ve got the freedom to do whatever they want and they can.”
Hutt had been told to never again undertake a similar journey in the same vessel, Maritime New Zealand told the Herald.
Michael-Paul Abbott, Maritime NZ central region compliance manager, said issues were raised about the vessel’s seaworthiness.
Investigators thought the wooden dinghy was unsuitable for a voyage across Cook Strait, he said, which was “one of our most unforgiving stretches of water”.
Hutt would not have to foot the bill for the rescue and, at this stage, he would not be facing any charges either.