Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Anniversary of a mid-ocean shipwreck



Twenty-five years ago to the day, the luxury superyacht I was delivering from Rio to the Cape ran into a container. I had not long gone off-watch, as the maritime expression goes, and my mate took over the wheel. It was just after midnight.
The yacht slammed into the submerged container. It punctured the hull near the keel. Moments later, I was woken by water pouring into my cabin and over the bunk.
The yacht was seriously damaged, and beyond repair out in the South Atlantic, very far from either South America or South Africa.
My shipmate was a young woman who volunteered to help as I was leaving the marina alone. Poor Beth. I'm sure she'll never forget that moment, and nor the very scary time to come.
The yacht filled very quickly and we had no option but to take to a liferaft.

The wrong class of raft

We were lucky in a way that the weather was not stormy.
Although liferaft drill was part of my nautical college training for my DoT Commercial Yachtmaster ticket, the raft Beth and I climbed into seemed very different indeed.
It was much smaller than rafts used in training. And as we soon learned, it was the wrong class of raft for an ocean. Documentation in the raft showed it was built for brief rescue efforts in the English Channel.
Continues on the blogs for my sailing adventure story, Sailing to Purgatory, at SailingToPurgatory.com


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