Naval frigate, HMS Northumberland has lent its support to the rescue of Dee Caffari following the dismasting of Aviva yesterday morning. The Naval Frigate learnt of Caffari’s difficulties from Falmouth coast guard whilst en-route back from the Mediterranean for Christmas leave.
The Commanding Officer, Martin Simpson, sent a message directly to Caffari onboard Aviva that they were 85 nautical miles away and able to make a small alteration course to offer assistance until a tug arrives today.
HMS Northumberland reached Aviva at 23.25 UTC last night and spent the rest of the night circling Caffari to ensure that all nearby shipping kept clear of the racing yacht. Caffari’s ‘guardian angel’ enabled the solo sailor to get five hours of much needed sleep, which was essential so she could prepare for the long tow back to Northern Spain.
The sea state has now eased enabling the navy to launch one of their support vessels to deliver a bacon sandwich and medical supplies for Caffari’s minor injuries. Having provided morale boosting and practical assistance the crew of HMS Northumberland will now assist with attaching the tow later today.
A tug has been arranged from La Coruna and is due to meet up with Caffari at around 14.30 UTC today. Attaching the tow will be a difficult manoeuvre in the very large swell even though the high winds are easing. Caffari will be tested even further as she will have to hand steer, due to rudder damage caused by the broken mast, for the entire 20 to 24 hours back to port. Listen to Dee onboard Aviva - http://www.avivaoceanracing.com/files/audio/dee_aviva_rescue_201207.asx Dee reported at 13:36 Thursday:
It has been 30 hours since Aviva was dismasted and I am still bobbing around in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The good news is that the weather has improved. The sky has cleared the rain has stopped and the wind has abated. The swell is still at large and the relentless rolling onboard Aviva is uncomfortable to say the least.
As the daylight was being lost yesterday afternoon, panic set in. I couldn’t stay out here alone at night. I hadn’t slept for two days. I was scared and felt vulnerable and was worried of being mowed down by a ship as I did not show up too well without a mast and sails.
The shore team had been doing a sterling job arranging a rescue and keeping options open and checking I was still okay. Then just as I was about to crack I heard the news that a guardian angel was coming to keep watch over me. My angel was in the form of the British Warship Northumberland and the crew with the Commanding Officer Martin Simpson.
They arrived at midnight and spent all night keeping watch on Aviva and me so I could sleep. It was heavenly. This morning with breakfast delivered they agreed to stay on station until the Spanish tow arrived from La Coruna. All being well I should be under tow this afternoon and making way to Spain with hopes of stepping onto dry land tomorrow.
Andrew Roberts, Campaign Director based at the shore team’s office in Fareham said,
'We have arranged a large tug for the tow back to land, but the situation is still extremely precarious bearing in mind the sea state and the distances involved. The wind is still over 40 knots and the sea state is very rough, however we are hopeful that this will ease by the time the tug meets up with Aviva. We are extremely grateful to HMS Northumberland for their support as it was critical to protect Dee from passing ships and enable her to get some sleep. Without HMS Northumberland’s protection, Dee would have had a very stressful night worrying about potential collisions in a very busy shipping lanes, which would have left Dee too exhausted to hand steer for 24 hours back to Spain.'