A NEW Zealand repair man is on his way to Antarctica after a renegade Norwegian yachtsman set sail unaware he was still on board.
The marine mechanic was reportedly working on an anchor aboard the 52ft Nilaya in Auckland harbour, when the yacht hurriedly cast off as immigration officials tried to serve deportation papers on the skipper, Jarle Andhoy, 34.
Mr Andhoy and three crew members have embarked on an unpermitted voyage to Antarctica's Ross Sea, in defiance of both the Norwegian and New Zealand governments.
A previous trip he made to Antarctica almost a year ago ended in disaster when his yacht Berserk sank in a fierce storm and three men died.
Declaring himself "a Viking", the Norwegian adventurer says he is seeking the wreckage of the Berserk, which was serving as a supply ship for an attempt to reach the South Pole on quad bikes.
New Zealand authorities, who co-ordinated an extensive search and rescue operation last year in which Mr Andhoy and a companion were airlifted to safety, are furious about his return voyage.
They are trying to track down the Nilaya.
Mr Andhoy told the Norwegian public broadcasting service NRK that the presence on board of the unnamed New Zealander was not part of his plan, but was the result of "a hectic departure" from Auckland last week.
He said it was "a somewhat tricky situation" because the man did not have a passport or papers with him.
But Mr Andhoy insisted: "Everything is on schedule and the atmosphere is good on board.
"We are well prepared for what may befall us."
The broadcaster reported him as saying that the Nilaya was not carrying a locator beacon so it would not put rescue services at risk.
Murray McCully, the New Zealand foreign minister, spoke to Norwegian government officials on Tuesday to express concern over the Auckland man understood to be on board.
"It's fair to say the actions of the skipper are of some concern to the New Zealand government and have been for some time," Mr McCully said.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman added: "The Southern Ocean is one of the most remote and inhospitable areas in the world.
"New Zealand government agencies are obviously concerned about any possibility that there could be a repeat of last year's events in the Ross Sea.''
Marine experts said the workman was unlikely to have adequate clothing and would put an extra strain on the yacht's provisions.