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sail-world.com -- French sailor rescued after days adrift off Tasmania

French sailor rescued after days adrift off Tasmania    
Mon, 21 Jan 2013

A French round-the-world sailor has been rescued in rough seas by an Australian Antartcic cruisie ship after being stranded in the Southern Ocean for three days.

Alain Delord set off a distress beacon on Friday after the mast on his 11-metre yacht Tchouk Tchouk Nougatwas dismasted and then holed in heavy weather, 500 nautical miles south west of Tasmania'.

The 63-year-old, who had set off on a solo, around-the-world voyage from France in late October, abandoned his yacht and took his life raft.

The cruise ship MV Orion, which was scheduled to visit Macquarie Island as part of an Antarctic expedition, made a 53-hour diversion to come to the French sailor aid about 9:30pm on Sunday night.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) coordinated the rescue and said Delord 'was recovered safely and without injury'.

'He is currently receiving medical attention and early indications are that he is healthy,' an AMSA statement said.

'Weather conditions were better than expected and there was plenty of light in the area.'

Orion captain Mike Taylor said the vessel's 100 passengers on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Macquarie Island had at first been 'massively disappointed' to be diverted.

'But there was a cheer you could hear right over the ship when we pulled him in through the door,' he told the ABC.

Mr Taylor warned passengers that the ship's stabilisers would have to be switched off as they approached Mr Delord's vicinity, and urged passengers worried about the ship rolling and rocking to lie down in bed.

The crew expected strong winds and waves of between three and seven metres, and were preparing to approach the raft directly and winch Mr Delord up if they were unable to launch the Zodiac, which is an inflatable boat.

'Following the initial distress AMSA found him with a plane and then set up a relay so that they had somebody overhead pretty much all the time,' Mr Taylor explained to local media.

'The raft he was in from the yacht was pretty small and he didn't have any food or water, and he just had a marine band radio, which the battery died on after a day.

'So they dropped him another raft with food and water, and also with an aviation band radio so he was able to talk to an interpreter in the plane.

'When we got up to him - I mean, conditions were pretty bad. We had 25 knots of wind from the north-west.

'There was a long swell from the south-west, you know, probably about 3.5m to 4m, and the cloud ceiling was probably only 500 feet.'



Orion expedition leader Australian Don McIntyre said a wave of water flooded part of the ship when crews initially opened the ship's side door.

'We shut the side door fast ... then the captain repositioned and gave the OK to open again ... when we did I was amazed to see the raft just 20 metres from us, sitting in calm water in the lee of the ship with Alain waving,' he said.

McIntyre said he gave the go-ahead for the Zodiac to drop into the water and intercept the life raft.

'The raft was drifting to the bow as the ship was being pushed by the 30kt wind ... the Zodiac ripped past, they grabbed him and pulled Alain into the Zodiac, then Steve, the driver, quickly brought the bow of the Zodiac to the side gate, all the while water lapping at the entrance and some coming below,' he said.

'I passed the hauling line over and we attached it to Alain's harness and hauled him into the side of the ship ... then the recovery team took him from behind us and moved him to the hospital where the doctor and [expedition leader] Margie [McIntyre] were waiting.'

Australian Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said he wanted to congratulate both AMSA and the crew of the Orion for coordinating the rescue effort.

'Australia does have big responsibilities because of where we're located in the world, but it's important that those responsibilities be fulfilled in accordance with international law and practice, and certainly in this case... a fantastic effort from all involved,' he said.

The ship is now on its way to Hobart and is scheduled to arrive at 9:00am on Tuesday.


Original article available here.

by ABC/AFP



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