Hi all and merry Christmas
Ok this is a long shot but I'll try it!
First I need to try and fill you in on what happened.
On the 4th of December we set off from Tenerife in our 53 yacht with a crew of 5. Myself, my wife, our 2 children
7 & 9 and my step father in law.
Like most we struggled the first week with light winds down to 20 30. The second week the trades blew a steady 20-30 knots which meant we made up for the time lost
from the first week. 15 days in and all was looking good for an arrival in Barbados
on the eve of the 21st. Giving us a few days to prep for Christmas
, which the kids
were super excited about. We also have friends staying in Barbados
couldn't wait for us to arrive so we could all go surfing on Christmas Day together.
At 1830 on the 19th we were cruising along at 8-12 knots with a poled out Genoa
, when we heard a horrible crunching sound, suddenly the boat
slewed around 90 degrees with the auto helm alarm
sounding. My initial thoughts were that the auto pilot had disconnected from the rudder
post, but when I tried turning the wheel
and not getting any response. My heart sank as I thought I'd lost
the actual rudder
. We quickly furled in the Genoa
, then I donned my dive mask and jumped off the stern with a dive torch to take a look. I took one look under the stern and saw that the rudder post and frame work
were still intact but the actual grp had completely delaminated and had torn off. Nightmare!!
So now we're broad side on to 3-5 mt swell and 30 knt winds, not good. Over the next 6 hours We made many attempts at trying to head
back down wind
, I made a temporary rudder with the spinnaker
pole and timber planks. With the wind
and the swell nothing worked, we tried to point into wind to make it more comfortable, but she would only sit 90 degrees to wind and swell.
So rolling badly and very close to numerous knock downs, my wife was feeling the situation wasn't safe enough for the kids
and she wanted to get them off the boat
, so she called Falmouth Coastguard on the sat phone
In the early hours we had a 190m cargo vessel on scene to assist. They wanted to give us a Lee and throw lines down then pull us alongside. Even on their Lee side with the swell and them rolling made the situation far too dangerous to attempt. I could see it all going horribly wrong, and every time they came around to fire lines at us, I had to use my engine
to get out of their way. The language barrier between the cargo ship captain
and myself made it difficult to communicate clearly. He was trying his hardest to get close and help, but all I was thinking was if we're alongside and he rolls on us or my spreaders collided with his hull
. It would all end disastrously.
The coastguard then re routed another cargo vessel to come and assist. When it was daylight and we were waiting for them to arrive I pulled down the stainless pole that supports our radar
dome on the stern, I bolted 2 floor boards which I glued and screwed together to the pole to make another temporary rudder. We couldn't find a way of securely fixing it to the transom though and with the swell bouncing us around it just wouldn't work
properly. When the second cargo vessel arrived later in the morning it turned out to be 180m, so we went through exactly the same scenario as we had before, this was meant to be an easier transfer but the dangers were exactly the same.
So after another stressful day of having a 180m cargo vessel bearing down on us and firing lines at us, all attempts failing we were no closer to disembarking my now very fraught crew, the kids were very seasick after 24 hours of horrific rolling and sliding sideways down waves. None of us had slept or eaten properly.
At the end of day 2 the coastguard informed us that another sailing vessel was within 80nm of our position and they were turning around to come to our assistance.
My plan all along was to safely disembark my wife, kids and father in law. I was going to stay onboard and try and drift in on the boat nearer to land then try and sort a tow out.
Whilst we were awaiting the arrival of the rescue
yacht the 2 cargo vessels stayed close by us to keep a safe eye on us, I'm very grateful for their patience.
So on the 3rd night the yacht arrived, we all felt that attempting the transfer in the dark wouldn't be a good idea, so we waited for sunrise.
After another very uncomfortable night the weather
to ease off in the morning. As the sun rose the wind and the swell was still present with wind gusting to 28knts and a 2-4 m swell. Launching the other yachts dinghy
was out of the question, the only safe way we saw was to send my family
across in a life raft.
They all took a rucksack each then I loaded them up in the life raft and cast them off for the other yacht to pick them up. A very emotional moment I can tell you.
So now alone on the boat I tried everything to get her to point down wind. With going full astern trying for the prop walk to turn me before pulling the sails
up and trying to goose wing down wind. I thought if I could just get going down wind then try and steer with the drouges I had out of the stern, all would be ok. My god I tried everything and in the end the main sheet snapped, one of the Genoa sheets
snapped and got caught in the prop. Everything I tried, she just kept spinning back and sitting broadside on.
With my family
now safely onboard the other yacht they sat close by as I kept trying.
I had now spent 60 sleepless hours trying everything I could and I could envisage something really bad happening to me if I was left alone out there. With the boom now swinging around as I rode
over the swells and the wind showing no sign of easing off, I made the hardest decision of my life and decided to abandon and join my family.
I left the drouges trailing from the stern, I also left the engine
running on tick over to power the batteries
to keep the AIS
Leaving my boat was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, all the years of planning for this trip, all the personal belongings we had to leave onboard, all the children's Christmas presents. It breaks my heart just writing this. I just hoping she's still afloat or else it'll all be lost forever.
The crew of the yacht that rescued us were amazing, we were really looked after and brought safely to Martinique
. I don't really want to mention any names at the moment without asking permission first.
So my intention now is to try and recover my yacht, bring it back in for repair and carry on with our dream trip. After all of our hard work the past few years and the prep I really don't want us to have to go home.
I'd like to add that Falmouth, Solent and Fort de France
coastguard stations were amazing throughout the whole ordeal.
So now for the big ask!!!!!
I'm after someone to help me. I'm looking to recover my abandoned yacht somewhere NW of Barbados. I have recent AIS
fixes and sightings plotted and I've calculated the drift rate and direction.
Last fix was showing a NW drift heading for Antigua
direction, I'm happy to fly up to Antigua
a set off from there.
I'm reckoning it'll be a 2 day sail or motor
out to the last known position, drop me off onboard with a few essentials to fix a temporary rudder then sail home.
Or someone with a power boat/ fishing
boat to maybe tow me.
Or if anybody knows anyone that could help us in any way. Please get in touch.
I'm willing to pay cash if someone can help me out.