‘We got stuck!’ -Couple stranded in Falklands close to home after hitching a ride on a ship

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A newly-wed Auckland couple who were stranded in the Falkland Islands for four months are almost home, thanks to a lift from a fishing vessel.

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Feeonaa and Neville Clifton headed overseas on their honeymoon and got stranded in the Falkland Islands, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Supplied

At the beginning of March, Feeonaa and Neville Clifton married after 25 years together and left for their honeymoon with plans to head on to South America, but their travel options dried up when international borders started closing.

“From the time we started our honeymoon it was only a matter of two weeks before the cases in Europe starting flying out the window and it just escalated from there and we had to stay. We got stuck!” Feeonaa said.

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Feeonaa and Neville Clifton caught a fishing boat home to New Zealand. Photo: Supplied

They still enjoyed their time in the Falklands, which was spent with Neville’s family, she said.

“We just climbed every hill we could, because it’s quite an isolated space really.”

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After having no luck finding a flight home, the couple heard a Sanford fishing boat was dropping off and collecting crews stranded nearby.

Feeonaa said she had never spent a night at sea before, but quickly found her sea legs.

The view from the deck of the San Aotea II fishing boat.

The view from the deck of the San Aotea II fishing boat. Photo: Supplied

“It was pretty incredible… it was a lot of long days. If you like confined spaces, you should definitely consider a fishing trip.”

The couple learned a lot about sea life on their 27 day trip onboard the San Aotea II, which anchored off Timaru on 30 July.

They kept busy with work, card games and learning knots, while spending time with the crew.

“They’re all amazing personalities and very serious about their jobs… it’s given me a brand new appreciation of the sea,” Feeonaa said.

Sanford deep water fleet manager Darren Shaw said the couple fitted in well.

“We’ve got spare bunks, people don’t eat too much, so it was a great opportunity to bring them back and help out our fellow Kiwis,” Shaw said.

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The trip across the Southern Ocean was calm and took less time than expected, he said.

After 30 days onboard, the couple and crew have completed their mandatory isolation period and are waiting offshore for their Covid-19 test results.

They should be allowed to disembark on Tuesday morning, if the results are negative.

Feeonaa said she was proud of New Zealand’s Covid-19 progress and happy to be returning to a safe country.

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