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Turkey's crack rescuers trek 50 miles for three British sailors

by Ted Thornhill/Sail-World Cruising on 21 Sep 2013
AKUT and Concorde of Hamble - night shot .. .
AKUT (pronounced 'acute'), Turkey's crack mountain rescue team has trekked 50 miles and climbed three mountains to reach and rescue three British sailors who ended up on the rocks near the coastal resort town of Datca. The sailors, all in their 60s, were stranded for 14 hours before being rescued, as initially fierce seas prevented the Turkish coastguard from reaching them.

The three sailors, now back in the UK, told how they underwent the dramatic rescue when they were shipwrecked off Turkey during a violent storm.

They were stranded aboard the yacht 'Concorde of Hamble' for 14 hours as Turkish emergency services battled the elements to reach them, stranded below a cliff face near the fishing village of Datca.

As the raging sea battered them onto the rocks, the Turkish coastguard were beaten back by the waves.

The coastguard summoned the jandarma (army police) for help but the gale force winds and high seas meant they, too, were unable to reach the terrified sailors.

Fearing the listing yacht would sink at any moment AKUT, the Turkish volunteer mountain rescue team trekked over two mountains and scaled down the cliff face to reach the desperate Brits.

Securing the yacht to the rocks and helping the exhausted sailors onto a tiny isolated beach, AKUT, built a campfire and dished out warm clothes and tea, comforting the cold and shocked crew until sunrise when the storm finally passed.

And now the grateful storm survivors have told how they owe their lives to the incredible efforts of the Turkish rescue teams.

The three silver-haired sailors, Alan Cooper, Trevor Clark and Denis Maher, were cruising around the Greek Islands and had set sail in the Aegean from the Island of Symi heading to Kos when they were caught in the storm late in the afternoon of Sunday September 8.

Blown miles off course they ran aground on needle sharp rocks at the point where the Mediterranean sea meets the Aegean and the two strong currents merge.

Stuck fast, severely listing and taking on water the men radioed for help but after the coastguard and jandarma were defeated by the storm they summoned AKUT - a volunteer mountain rescue service famed throughout Turkey for their incredible derring-do.

AKUT set out from Marmaris - nearly 50 miles away - but reaching Datca they still had to cross two mountain peaks on foot before scaling down the cliff face with all their rescue equipment.

Waiting aboard the sinking yacht Mr Maher explained, in a letter (right), the joy and relief he and his friends felt on seeing the ACUT torches appear through the darkness.

At first light, after the storm passed, the coastguard arrived at the inaccessible cove and took the three battered Brits on an inflatable dinghy to shore.


They were examined at Bodrum Hospital but had suffered no lasting damage and have since returned to the UK none the worse for their ordeal.

For AKUT the incredible rescue is all part of a day's work.

The crack rescue team was first established in 1996 as an association of unpaid volunteer members in Istanbul under the leadership of the renowned Turkish mountaineer Nasuh Mahruki.

The organization delivers emergency and disaster relief to people trapped in caves, lost on mountains or to victims of earthquake or flood disasters both at home and abroad.



A CREW MEMBER'S THANK YOU LETTER TO THE RESCUE SERVICES:

Regarding land rescue eighth/9th September 2013

Dear members of Akut, on the above night I was fortunate enough to be rescued by members of your team.

My friends and I were shipwrecked on some rocks opposite Kos and your organization were informed of our plight. You can imagine our relief when we were told of your impending arrival.

Obviously we had to wait a while because, as we found out later your team had to come from Marmaris and trek across two mountains to find us.

The relief we felt when eight torch lights appeared over the top of the rise was enormous.

Once the team members were with us, their professionalism was unbelievable. They immediately took control and enquired of our condition. Hot drinks and food were supplied and our condition was assessed and verified to be OK.

All our wet clothes were removed and new ones were supplied and a fire was built to dry us and them out.

We thought, once this was done, they were going to leave whilst we waited for the coastguard to arrive.

To their credit they stayed with us all night - keeping our spirits up and looking after us.
'If it had not been for them I am sure hypothermia would have set in and the end result would have been disastrous!!

My heartfelt thanks are sent to all your team members and your organization as without you I am sure I would not be writing this letter.

THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!

Denis Maher.

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