Real Life

Lost at sea teen speaks for the first time about her harrowing 46-hour ordeal

Tania-Rose Turner-Graham and her father Michael Graham were missing at sea for a terrifying two days after a fishing trip off Great Barrier Island went horribly wrong. Here, she speaks for the first time.

By Lynley Ward

Brave schoolgirl Tania-Rose Turner-Graham, who survived a terrifying 46-hour ordeal at sea with her father off Great Barrier Island in April, has revealed she feared she wouldn't make it.

"I was planning my funeral in my head," the Rotorua 17-year-old tells Woman's Day in an exclusive interview.

Still traumatised by the ordeal, Tania-Rose has described the harrowing weekend spent on board the crippled vessel with her father Michael Graham, 41, after they lost all power during a fishing trip off Great Barrier – and then the weather turned into a storm.

Tania-Rose Turner-Graham was so convinced she wouldn't make it that she started planning her funeral in her head
Tania-Rose Turner-Graham was so convinced she wouldn't make it that she started planning her funeral in her head

The Year 13 pupil recounts facing seven-metre high waves as she pushed against the side of the small wooden fishing boat to stop it from rolling. The conditions were so rough that rescuers sent to look for the missing duo were forced to turn back.

"I had to use all my body strength to try and not make us flip," says the courageous teen.

Despite nearly capsizing at least six times, the resilience of Tania-Rose and her father – an experienced seaman with an army background – saw them survive horrendous conditions against all odds.

The police launch prepares to tow their boat to safety after they were finally found.
The police launch prepares to tow their boat to safety after they were finally found.

Tania-Rose also spoke of the overwhelming relief after setting sail when they were spotted by the police helicopter drifting north of Waiheke Island, saying tears started streaming down her face.

"I was so happy I was crying. I was saying 'We're safe'."

For their full story, click here.

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