Please select your home edition
Edition
InSunSport - International - Tough

EPIRB but not registered -four rescued crew 'lucky to be alive'

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 18 Jun 2011
Intended route of the yacht Gulliver .. .
They set off their EPIRB but they hadn't registered it, and the resultant delay almost cost the four sailors their lives. In the incident that occurred off the coast of South Africa in the Southern Ocean this week, the four clung to their capsized catamaran then huddled in their life raft for more than nine hours waiting for rescue in five metre seas and winds up to 55 knots.

The four South African sailors, skipper Greg West and crew Frans Sprung, Shaun Kennedy and Mike Morck, were trying to outrun the bad weather when their boat capsized after a sudden strong gust of wind.

Their EPIRB, which was not registered, did not activate when the vessel capsized, which is what usually occurs. Crew member Kennedy, 34, the only crew member under 60, then swam under the upturned yacht to activate the Epirb manually. Later he also swam under the yacht to release the life raft. When they inflated it, it was swept away by the strong wind but Kennedy swam after it and retrieved it.

The crew then let off distress flares, but these were not seen. Cape Town Radio had picked up the emergency signal, which was transmitting from 12 miles off Cape Infanta, (see map), but because it had not been registered with the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Cape Town, it did not indicate which vessel the signal was coming from.

However, Greg West's wife Marcelle had become alarmed when she could not contact her husband on his cell phone. She reported to both Cape Town Radio and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).

NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon explained that Marcelle had raised her concerns with an NSRI volunteer in Knysna, who in turn alerted the NSRI in Mossel Bay. 'She said the last known contact had been when the yacht was off the Breede River, racing towards Mossel Bay. She said she spoke to her husband, Greg, about seven times a day, but now could not reach him,' Lambinon said.

NSRI bases in Still Bay, Witsand and Agulhas were alerted. NSRI Witsand, which was closest, at the mouth of the Breede River, set off towards the signal's position about 12 nautical miles offshore of Cape Infanta in their 5.5m inflatable rescue craft Queenie Payne, in five metre swells and 60 knot winds around 7.30pm.

NSRI Still Bay launched as back up and NSRI Agulhas went on high alert with metro emergency services with the police standing by at Witsand.

When they reached the area where the emergency signal was transmitting from, they tried unsuccessfully to contact the Gulliver on VHF radio. 'We then set off an illuminating flare and noticed a small flickering light just over a mile away, and we motored towards the light,' the rescue crew said.

'On reaching it, at about 11pm, we found the upturned yacht, a 40-foot catamaran, and all four crew were in the life raft which they had tied to the hull. They were suffering from hypothermia and shock, and we took them on to our rescue craft and began the difficult task of motoring back.

'But it was soon evident that the seven people now on board were too heavy for our rescue craft.'

Another NSRI craft was sent to assist, as were two fishing vessels, but eventually the Queenie Payne made it back on her own. The yachtsmen were taken to hospital in Riversdale, one in a serious condition.

Rian Schoeman, of Cape Town Radio, said yesterday: 'The NSRI guys were great, but at the end of the day the skipper’s wife was the real hero of the day.

'She used her initiative to tell us her husband was overdue, which enabled us to put two and two together with the signal. I hope her husband buys her a big chocolate.'

The SA Maritime Safety Authority will investigate the incident as per standard procedure, said Lambinon
............................

Letter from Reader (is this an issue with many sailors?)

Sender: Brian Gormley

Message: Glad they all survived.
Maybe like me they were refused registration by their National Authority(Ireland) because the PLB was bought in on the internet from a foreign source(UK).
Have been trying to sort out a new code without much sucess so far, conflicting advice seems plentiful.



Schaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82Wildwind 2016 660x82Newport Boat Show 2016 660x82

Related Articles

Kids Polarised Sunglasses from Barz Optics
Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Each pair are supplied with a neoprene case and sunglass retainer.
Posted on 4 Aug
Reducing weight aloft with composite backstays
Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Every kilogram you take out of the rig is roughly equivalent to 4kg added to the bottom of your keel!
Posted on 26 Jul
Free $US3,000 Carbon Vang with SouthernFurl boom orders in July
Southern Spars is giving a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July Southern Spars is giving away a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with all of their SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July. Carbon gas vangs make a great addition to the furling boom package, though if you’d prefer to keep your existing one, Southern Spars will offer you a 5% discount on the price of your boom instead.
Posted on 29 Jun
Newport Bermuda Race - High Noon takes honours
As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, the powerful 100-foot grand prix Comanche, to the surprise of many they were led by an unusual boat and crew. High Noon, at 41 feet, is fully 59 feet shorter than Comanche and tens of feet shorter than many other entries.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to ban bottled water
Approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. The RQYS Management Committee has confirmed that approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. This will place the club as a leader in environmental impact management in Australia and around the world. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club earlier this year did likewise. Who’s next?
Posted on 16 Jun
SouthernFurl In-Boom furling systems withstand Sydney Hobart test
Southern Spars design team have developed the SouthernFurl Boom smaller budgets and yachts from 35-70 feet. Have you ever scared your family when you got stuck with too much sail up when you should be reefed? Southern Spars’ range of SouthernFurl booms are the answer – letting you reduce sail quickly and easily without leaving the safety of the cockpit.
Posted on 23 May
2016 Garda Trentino Olympic Week - Day 4
Garda Trentino Olympic Week 2016 draws near to the conclusion: the weather once again proves difficult. Garda Trentino Olympic Week 2016 draws near to the conclusion: the weather once again proves difficult. Tomorrow the medal race is scheduled for the Lasers and another two races for the three paralympic classes.
Posted on 13 May
CCA presents RCC Award to Scott and Mary Flanders
CCA has announced that Scott and Mary Flanders are the recipients of the organization’s 2015 Royal Cruising Club Trophy. The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has announced that Scott and Mary Flanders are the recipients of the organization’s 2015 Royal Cruising Club Trophy.
Posted on 22 Apr
Cyclone Winston Relief Fund – Help the people of Fiji
Sea Mercy is sending volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food and medical supplies to Fiji. Sea Mercy is once again sending our volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food, water and medical supplies and teams to Fiji.
Posted on 27 Feb