Coast Guard slams unprepared sailors
by Fred Caygill, MCA/Sail-World Cruising on 29 Jun 2012
They are finally talking about it openly. In the UK, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and no doubt other sailing countries of the world, rescuers for years have been lamenting privately the fact that they are often asked to risk their lives to rescue people who are either ignorant of the sea, over-confident about the conditions, or unprepared. But they normally don't talk about it publicly.
Do you think we should have taken down the spinnaker earlier? .. .
Maybe their reticence has been caused by their understandable reluctance to be unkind to those who are distressed or injured, but this report, just in from Britain - and another from Australia, is undeniably a change of pace:
In Britain, at 3.23 am, Yarmouth Coastguard were contacted by the skipper of a work boat called ECC Opal from Sheringham Shoal wind farm, reporting that they had been approached by a yachtsman on a small yacht off the Norfolk coast, asking – Which way is Hull?
Yarmouth Coastguard requested the launch of the Cromer independent lifeboat. Upon arriving at the position of the yacht 14 miles offshore, they discovered one Andy Brown who was disorientated, which was probably due to tiredness.
The would-be sailor was attempting to sail from Great Yarmouth to Hull.
The yacht, Aloysia, had none of the recommended safety equipment like VHF radio or flares nor navigation aids such as GPS or even charts.
His 19ft yacht was towed to shore - but two days later he had to be rescued again when he ‘missed’ a harbour channel for boats and ran aground.
The skipper received a public dressing down from the RNLI who say the cost of saving him twice over will be thousands of pounds.
The second rescue happened yesterday when the Aloysia ran aground after missing the harbour channel at Wells, just down the coast from Cromer.
The Wells inshore lifeboat was launched and the rescue services were astounded to discover it was the same yacht.
Wells lifeboat coxswain Allen Frary said he was alerted by harbourmaster Bob Smith that the Aloysia had run aground on the west side of the harbour channel.
Mr Frary said ‘He went out on the morning tide but apparently turned back because of engine problems.’ He said the craft was stuck fast on the sand, and he and lifeboat operations manager Chris Hardy remained on standby as the yachtsman tried to refloat her.
Then, at around noon, they paged the inshore lifeboat crew, which launched to take the vessel in tow and see it safely to a mooring near the harbour office.
Mr Frary said the sole crewman on board, named as Andrew Brown, appeared to have changed his original plan to sail from Yarmouth to Hull and had instead been making for the Wash port of Boston.
He added that Mr Brown appeared to be ‘using a road atlas to navigate’ rather than GPS and charts and was relying on a mobile phone to liaise with the coastguard.
Mr Frary said huge gusts were blowing...a ‘good south-westerly wind’. He added ‘I'm trying to find a printable way of putting it - I think the man was completely foolhardy, really.
‘It is absolutely unacceptable for people to put to sea without basic navigational equipment and safety equipment.
‘He is putting his own life at risk and wasting the time and resources of the RNLI.’ Each rescue was reckoned to cost the charity about £3,500, Mr Frary said
Stranded at sea trying to rescue foolhardy yacht:
It doesn't only happen in Britain. In Australia, a Tin Can Bay coastguard (east coast) boat will try to return to shore today after becoming stranded during a rescue mission in rough seas off the Fraser Coast.
The four-member crew was responding to a call for help from a 13-metre yacht late yesterday afternoon, when its boat became stranded in five metre seas.
The yacht, with three people on board, ran aground near Rainbow Beach, even though a severe weather warning for strong winds had been in place since Wednesday.
No-one was injured and they made it back to shore.
However, the rescue boat was forced to take shelter near Double Island Point, rather than risk the dangerous crossing of Wide Bay Bar in the conditions.
Commander Harley Moss says another boat is on stand-by.
'We have four-metre waves that they've got to effectively surf back in across the bar but in slack water, we [are] hopeful we don't have a tide going out nor the water going out and hopefully it will be flat enough,' he said.