Please select your home edition
Edition
Ancasta Ker 40+ 728x90

Backstay saves sailor from certain death

by RNLI/Sail-World Cruising on 26 Sep 2012
RNLI Rescue .. .
They breed sailors tough in Scotland. As lone sailor Gerry Beard this week clung for dear life to the rigging wire he had managed to grab when swept overboard by heavy seas north of Scotland, a phrase his grandmother used when the weather was bad sprang to mind: 'Heaven help a sailor on a night like this'.

Stornoway RNLI lifeboat, headquartered in the Outer Hebrides, launched at 1.30pm on Saturday, September 15th, to the aid of Mr Beard, 72, and yacht Meris, sailing around 50 miles off the Butt of Lewis in whole gale force conditions.

The Stornoway Coastguard helicopter also attended the scene, as well as fishing vessel Inverdale which stood by whilst events unfolded on the heavy seas.

A competent sailor, first introduced by his father to yacht life aged 11, Mr Beard was on the last day of a round trip from his home in Sheildaig, Scotland, to Reykjavick, Iceland.

Caught up in the tail end of a tropical storm, weather conditions had not been easy throughout the trip – on one day Mr Beard had been forced to stay below for 16 hours in Force 10 (55-63kts) conditions, and was also suffering from damaged ribs due to a fall six days earlier.

'It was the last day. I was being very careful as I knew I was exhausted. I didn't want to get complacent, not on the last day,' he said.

Yet, despite his care, disaster struck when Mr Beard climbed out of his cabin to be struck by an enormous wave.

'I'd poked my head out and looked around and everything seemed fine,' he recalled. 'I opened the cabin doors, took a step out, bent down to pick up my tether and then I just got hit by a wave that came from nowhere.

'I'd been so careful to clip myself on at all times during the trip, but this just took me. I was in the air, inside a wall of water, and I put my arms out as you do when you fall and just caught the back of the backstay and held onto it.'

Mr Beard continued: 'The water went away and I remember looking down to see I was above the boat, then the next wave took the boat and swung it back towards me and I fell into a gap between the guide wires and the cockpit.'

Recovering, Mr Beard inspected the damage back on board, finding the lump of water which had knocked him overboard had also ripped off the cabin doors and left the Meris – which translates from Latin as 'Of the Sea' – half filled with salt water.

Radio equipment was swamped and unable to send a Mayday signal, so Mr Beard ripped off his personal EPRIB alarm at pushed the button.

Bailing out the boat, 30 minutes later and the solo sailor heard the welcome arrival of the Stornoway coastguard chopper.

Not wanting to leave the disabled vessel, Mr Beard was informed that Stornoway Lifeboat would arrive in a couple of hours and that the fishing vessel Inverdale, 11 miles from the scene, was coming to stand by whilst the helicopter returned to refuel.

Mr Beard continued to bail and the Tom Sanderson lifeboat was soon aside before setting a tow line between the two vessels at around 5pm. Both vessels arrived at the safety of Stornoway harbour at around 3.30am on Sunday (September 16th) – a full 14 hours after the RNLI lifeboat launched for rescue.

It was here that Mr Beard was greeted by Stornoway Fishermen's Mission Port Missioner Superintendent Finlay Macleod, who had been briefed of the sailor's situation by the volunteer Stornoway RNLI crew.

Mr Macleod commented: 'The sunny conditions in the picture bear no reality to the heavy driving rain in the darkness at 3.30am when we picked Mr Beard up on the pier.

'All he wanted was a hot shower, dry clothes, a meal and a bed; all of which the Stornoway Mission provided him at no cost during his two night stay.'

He continued: 'We applied first aid to the salt water abrasions on his feet, then he slept like a babe. For someone in his age group, to be able to retain his powers of concentration over the period of two days sitting for hours at the tiller, cold, wet, without proper food in nine to ten storms is remarkable and a credit to Gerry and his fitness.'

Expressing great gratitude to all who had assisted in his rescue, Mr Beard added: 'I want to tell the story to highlight just what a job everyone has done. The Coastguard were magic, not just in terms of their help, but also in terms of making my wife feel better when she became concerned.

'Finlay brought me a bacon sandwich when he came to meet me and has done so much for me since, and the lifeboat was terrific, I hope the fishermen up here realise how lucky they are.'

Below is the RNLI video taken of the rescue:
Southern Spars - 100Ancasta Ker 40+ 660x82Barz Optics - Melanin Lenses

Related Articles

Bavaria Yachts to introduce Cruiser 34 and Nautitech 46
The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina, from February 16th to 20th.
Posted on 13 Feb
Unique Transatlantic Sailing Event - Building friendship across oceans
Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Sailing in the wake of the great explorers, international friendship and understanding is at the core of this once in a lifetime adventure - The Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
Posted on 10 Feb
Frigid flying – Coast Guard aircrews take on New England Winter
Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. At Air Station Cape Cod, aviation maintenance and electronic technicians work around the clock to ensure the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters are prepared and ready to launch. There is one thing the maintenance crews and pilots cannot control: winter weather.
Posted on 9 Feb
On board interview with Lisa Blair - solo Antartica circumnavigation
So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. After the setbacks of a delayed departure due to gremlins in the electronics, we are delighted to have these answers from her on board. She is well and enjoying her time. Climate Action Now, her Hick 50, left Albany in Western Australia on January 22, 2017.
Posted on 8 Feb
Yachting cartoonist Mike Peyton dies at 96
“The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist” died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. Mike Peyton, dubbed “The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist”, died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. A modest, shy man, he eschewed the spotlight and seemed unaware of the esteem which in sailors all around the world held him.
Posted on 27 Jan
Zhik Xeflex® - your shield against cold environments
This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. How do you make a water resistant garment that really breathes, yet reflects your own body heat back to you? Where do you find a compression resistant and extremely insulating filling that is nowhere near as bulky as the Michelin Man, yet gives you that kind of warmth and comfort?
Posted on 17 Jan
Sounds like a boat - Lisa Blair's departure delayed due to electronics
Final preparations of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue Final preparations and safety checks of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue.
Posted on 15 Jan
Lisa Blair starts Solo Circumnavigation of Antarctica
Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, over 500 have rowed across the various oceans and 12 people have landed on the moon. Only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Sydney-based Lisa Blair, 32, intends to become the first woman, the fastest and the third person in history to conquer such a challenge.
Posted on 14 Jan
When whales meet sails
CAMPER helmsman Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermudez found himself nearly face to face with whale in middle of North Atlantic Ocean. Currently the database for marine mammal strikes is very sparse. We are requesting sailors and boaters help to submit information on current and past incidents, however long ago that may be. By giving a location, date, identification if possible, and any other relevant information you can help scientists better understand where marine mammals are at risk for strikes
Posted on 8 Jan
Potential instability in Atlantic Ocean water circulation system
One of the world’s largest ocean circulation systems may not be as stable as today’s weather models predict One of the world’s largest ocean circulation systems may not be as stable as today’s weather models predict, according to a new study. In fact, changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) — the same deep-water ocean current featured in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” — could occur quite abruptly, in geologic terms, the study says.
Posted on 6 Jan