An American-flagged yacht participating in the South Pacific's Port2Port Rally from Vanuatu and Noumea to Bundaberg in Australia has hit Kenn Reef, an atoll on a submerged continental block about 280 nm north east of Gladstone.
After sounding a Mayday, the crew, James and Allen sailing on the 44 ft monohulled yacht Hot Ice, were taken off the floundered boat by fellow rally participants, Chris and Nancy on Yacht Amulet. The yacht has been abandoned.
Lesley Grimminck, President of the Bundaberg Yacht Club reported that they are expected to arrive into Bundaberg tomorrow (Tuesday 28th October).
'We have little further information at the moment,' she said today, 'but apparently, apart from a few bruises, they are unhurt. We understand that Amulet reached Hot Ice while she was still afloat, and they were taken to the rescuing boat directly from their cockpit via a dinghy.'
The Port2Port Rally is one of the largest amateur cruising rallies in the world, and most of the yachts are just about to arrive in the Australian port of Bundaberg, at the end of a sailing journey from Vanuatu and Noumea.
It is certainly not a passage for sleepy sailors, as the route passes through several reef areas culminating in a passage through Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Last year another yacht was lost in the same rally trying to negotiate a pass between the reefs.
Most of the yachts left their South Pacific Ports over a week ago, and are expected to arrive Bundaberg in the next couple of days.
Forest of rally yachts at sunset in the Bundaberg Port Marina - .. .
Every year the Bundaberg Yacht Club, manned by a cast of efficient and dedicated volunteers, put on a stunning welcome for the yachts, most of which are foreign flagged boats and many in the process of a world circumnavigation. This year 42 yachts are participating in the rally.
After the efficient Australian procedures for Customs and Immigration, every night for a week the festivities go on in laid back style in a marquee erected on the foreshore of Bundaberg's Bundaberg Port Marina specially for the occasion.
There's a Pizza night, a 'Spagetti Bolognese' night, a welcome 'Bar-b-que', a free welcome breakfast, a 'Curry and Rice' night, and a free lunch barbecue. There's even a prawn and oyster night, to make sure that arriving yachties know what the Australian seafood scene is like.
Bundaberg festivities last all week - .. .
It all culminates in the 'End of Passage' official function, which is sponsored by the Port of Bundaberg, with prizes for all sorts of unusual sailing achievements that you don't hear of in racing circles - important stuff like the best dressed, the best poem, the best spirit displayed, or the most accurate ETA.
With most of the yachts embarking on necessary maintenance at the end of the Pacific crossing, it's a busy scene at the Bundaberg Port Marina. However, the Yacht Club also arranges visits to the local sights, shows arriving sailors where to do the best fresh shopping, and generally makes the yachties - over 100 - feel the first warmth of an Australian welcome.