HIGH seas have made it impossible for searchers to reach a small, uninhabited Tongan Island as they hunt for two missing Australian yachtsmen.
The three-metre swells around the island of Late, west of Vava’u, in the north of the Tonga group, made it too dangerous to land on Monday, said the Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ), which is co-ordinating the search.
The two Australians, both in their 60s, have been missing since Thursday night when their 15-metre yacht, Navillus, was wrecked off Late.
Rescuers hope the men made it ashore on the island, where searchers checked landing points on Friday.
RCCNZ search and rescue mission co-ordinator John Dickson says it is hoped the swells will die down enough for searchers to land on the island on Tuesday.
The two men reported via a satellite phone call to a relative in Victoria, Australia, that they had run aground and yacht was breaking up.
Air and sea searches on Friday found wreckage from the yacht, including an un deployed life raft.
However, extensive on-water searching and an aerial search of over 191 square nautical miles by an RNZAF P3 Orion has failed to find the men. Poor weather has hampered the search.
Police in Victoria are co-ordinating contact with the next of kin.
The yacht is understood to have been sailing from the Caribbean to Bundaberg in Queensland.