If you don't have an EPIRB on board you might wait a long time for a rescue. It was in the early hours of the morning one day this week when a home-built Belgian yacht, Taunea, collided with a vessel around 30nm off the coast of Devon in the UK. The collision dismasted the yacht and left the solo sailor adrift with no rigging, engine or communications.
Forget one of these at your peril
The rig had gone over the side in the collision and fouled the propeller, and when the mast fell it took the communications aerial with it. The sailor was left helpless in the English Channel's busy shipping lanes, in danger of another collision and a providing a navigational hazard for shipping. Ten hours passed before he was sighted by a crabbing boat, the Emma Jane, who initiated contact with the coastguard.
Belgium yacht Taunea
At 11.09am Brixham Coastguard requested the launch of the Salcombe lifeboat to assist.
Once the lifeboat had located the yacht, a tow was established and a four hour trip back to Salcombe Harbour got underway.
On arrival, a Salcombe harbour launch met the lifeboat and casualty vessel and assisted in putting the yacht onto a visitors mooring. Cameron Sims-Stirling, Salcombe RNLI duty mechanic, says the yacht and owner were very lucky to escape with the damage that they did.
‘The owner of the boat had spent the last six years building the yacht himself and was sailing around the world single handed, living onboard. He is looking to repair the boat locally and continue his world trip.’
It’s understood that the Coastguard have informed the Marine Accident Investigation Branch who are launching an investigation into the collision. In past incidents, ships have collided with yachts and only found out about it when they saw paint on their hull at the next port.