ARC Atlantic Race yacht Pelican crew evacuated after rig failure

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The five crew members of British yacht Pelican were evacuated from onboard their 53 foot Roberts design last last night (Tuesday 01 December) following a rig failure, approximately 325 nautical miles west of the Cape Verde Islands.

The Singapore flagged merchant vessel Crimson Mars diverted to assist the yacht at the request of MRCC Falmouth, after skipper Darryl Saxton called a MayDay yesterday afternoon citing the 'unacceptable risk to his crew' of remaining aboard, as the yacht was also unable to motor as there was a line wrapped around the propeller and the rig was considered to be in a dangerous condition following several failures. MRCC Falmouth and MRCC Ponta Delgada (Azores) were involved in co-ordinating the evacuation of the yacht with the merchant ship.

At approximate position 18º 01N 030º 27'W, the MV Crimson Mars rendezvoused with the Pelican, and as the yacht was unable to manoeuvre, the ship's Master decided to transfer the cre w of the Pelican via line and lifebuoy. All crew were safely aboard by 0200 hours. The MV Crimson Mars is now en route to Gibraltar and the Pelican has been abandoned; the owner having taken the decision not to scuttle the yacht. At the time of the incident, weather conditions were around F4 ENE with a swell of up to 2 metres.

All 5 crew of the Pelican, are from the United Kingdom, and the yacht was taking part in the annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, which departed Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on 22 November.

There are 210 yachts on the official entry list. The finish destination is Rodney Bay Marina in St Lucia, a distance of 2,700 nautical miles from Las Palmas and it is a passage that will take most of the yachts between 18 and 21 days.


Previous story on Auliana II:

The ARC yacht Auliana II was abandoned and the crew evacuated following the loss of the yacht's rudder in the early hours of Monday morning.

Skipper Christian Potthoff-Sewing, from Bielefeld in Germany and his seven crew members were safely ashore in Arguineguin, Gran Canaria, late yesterday evening (23/11/2009) some 36 hours after taking the start of ARC 2009 in the IRC Racing Division.

At around 04:00 on Monday 23/11/2009 the yacht lost its rudder some 70 nautical miles southwest of Gran Canaria. The exact cause of the breakage is unknown, though the on-watch crew doesn't think that the yacht struck any debris in the water.

Unable to make steerage back toward Gran Canaria, the skipper contacted MRCC Las Palmas at 0600 on Monday, requesting assistance with a tow. At around noon, a lifeboat from the Spanish Maritime Rescue Service (Salvamento Maritima) was on station and the tow was soon underway. However, owing to the increasing wind strength (between 20 and 28 knots) and direction of the swell, the towing line repeatedly pulled deck cleats off the lightweight racing yacht. Auliana II is a one-off JV53.

With the daylight fading, the entire crew was evacuated from the yacht as a safety measure, though attempts to tow the yacht continued. The salvage crew was unable to secure a line to the deck-stepped mast, and after several more frustrating attempts, the decision was made to abandon the yacht and return the crew ashore.

The yacht is fitted with a Yellowbrick Iridium satellite tracker and its position is being monitored by MRCC Tenerife, as attempts continue to salvage the yacht.

Meanwhile, the all-German crew received a warm welcome as they stepped ashore in Gran Canaria, where they arrived looking tired, but in good spirits. They were given hot tea and food and offered a change of clothes and taken to a local hotel.

Update: Auliana II recovered
In other ARC news, the yacht Auliana II has now been salvaged and towed to the Canary Islands. The salvage crew were able to locate the yacht, which had been abandoned on 24 November following rudder failure, via the Yellowbrick Iridium Tracker. After boarding the yacht, the crew affected repairs and pumped out water, before fitted a jury rudder and setting course northwards.
Letter from Reader:

Sender: Chris Bone

Message: Oceanswatch ( could really do with a few more yachts to provide it's conservation and humanitarian services worldwide. Next year I think I will follow the rally over with some spare skippers, as the rally obviously has a few participants who do not really want their yachts.