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Inmarsat satellite tracker led to yacht's rescue

by Geo Express/Sail-World Cruising on 2 Apr 2011
Spirit of Izivunguvungu - sunk in the Atlantic, but crew rescued quickly because of a satellite tracker on board Sea Lizzy Hange
A stranded Cape Town yacht and its young crew were successfully located and rescued, not because they had set off a distress beacon, but because of a tracking device which had been placed on the yacht when it entered a Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro Race last month (See Sail-World http://www.sail-world.com/CruisingAus/Dismasted,-holed,-but-all-crew-on-Spirit-of-Izivunguvungu-rescued/81724!story). Xtra-Link supplied the Royal Cape Town Yacht club with 20 tracking units - enabling them to fit every yacht participating in the event.

An IRC class Fast 42 yacht, the Spirit of Izivunguvungu, was being delivered back to Cape Town after participating in the Heineken Cape to Rio yacht race when the South African shore team, with GPS information sent by the SkyWave tracking terminal, noticed that the yacht was making no headway and moving in erratic directions 1574 nautical miles from Cape Town in the Atlantic Ocean.

Xtra-Link CEO Hans Kuijt believes that it will only be a matter of time before all yachts will begin to carry an Inmarsat satellite tracker, not only for safety but to also to allow shore followers and family to track their progress. Satellite tracking, already used in a commercial shipping environment is an extremely cost-effective way to save lives and reduce search and rescue costs for the leisure marine market.

Based on this information being received, and the fact that the yacht was not able to be contacted by radio, the shore crew decided that help was needed and a nearby ship was contacted by the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) to provide assistance.

The crew of four was successfully saved by a merchant vessel that found the yacht in a state of emergency - the mast was broken, the rudder damaged leaving it with little or no steerage, the engine was not operating and the boat was slowly sinking caused by a hole from the fallen mast.

It has been noted that without the tracking system it would not have been known that the crew and yacht were in distress. Xtra-Link’s ability to track the path of the vessel meant that there was no need to wait until the yacht was heavily overdue before calling an emergency. Also, no time was lost and no costly search mission was required because the exact GPS location of the yacht was received from the SkyWave IsatM2M tracking terminal.



For the Cape to Rio race, Visit http://capetorio.heineken.com/live-tracker or http://www.xtra-track.com/capetorio/ to playback the paths taken by each participant.

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