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Global Solo Challenge: A delicate refuelling operation on the high seas for Ari Känsäkoski

by Marco Nannini / Global Solo Challenge 28 Dec 2023 09:02 PST 28 December 2023
S/V Tomi Maru No.58 / ZEROchallenge © Ari Känsäkoski

After dismasting on the night between 21st and 22nd December Ari Känsäkoski's has had to fight the strong countercurrent of Agulhas which was making the boat drift to the south-east, exactly in the opposite direction of the distant African continent where safety and boatyards are.

After securing his broken mast to the side of the boat, Ari motored till after Christmas just to get himself out of the unfavourable current, using, unfortunately, a considerable amount of his onboard diesel. This posed more than a headache, with Reunion 1000 Miles due North, Durban and Port Elizabeth approximately 1200 miles due north west and Cape Town over 1400 miles, the remaining 100 liters of fuel on board ZEROchallenge defined the prospect of many days of slow drifting slowly under jury rig at the little speed that can be achieved with a small sail and the long ocean swell. Heading to the Crozet Islands around 300 Nautical Miles to the south was discarded as an option given the Île de la Possession only offers a bay for anchorage and would have not enabled Ari to effect any repairs and would have added a further 600 miles, there and back, of uncertain navigation in the roaring forties.

Contact and regular updates with MRCC Reunion continued throughout. On the morning of Christmas day, given how fast the fuel onboard had been used and how little progress was made due to the adverse current and with adverse weather forecast for the following day, it was agreed in coordination with MRCC Reunion that a message would be sent out to any ship passing in the proximity of ZEROchallenge.

However, the remote waters that Ari was sailing did not produce any good news for over 24 hours. Luckily, on the morning of the 26th MRCC Reunion contacted the GSC and Ari to inform that the Japanese Coast Guard was relaying a message from a Japanese high seas fishing vessel called Tomi Maru No.58 passing, by mere coincidence, just 65 miles from Ari's position. The fishing vessel owned by Taiyo A & F Co under the command of Sachio Hagiya altered course and proceeded to Ari's position at 12 knots speed and reached the scene at 12:47 UTC where there was a 3-4 meter swell and winds force 5 gusting up to 30 knots.

The sea state required maximum care to ensure the large fishing vessel, weighing 400 tons and measuring nearly 70m in legth and 11 in width would not come in contact with ZEROchallenge. Ari however reported that "they had good clear floating lines and bouys even with lights when it was getting dark. We were passing canisters back and forth". After a first transfer of 200lt of Marine Gas Oil the operations were suspended for the night and resumed in the morning and continued "Until all of mine where full and they had sent all they had. Being a a fishing boat it was easy for them to fish the canisters back for a next round. And they were super friendly and helpful."

After transferring 300 liters of Marine Gas Oil, 10 liters of engine oil and 10 liters each of Kerosene and Light Oil which may need to be mixed with to decrease the viscosity of the fuel used by high sea vessels, at 08:45 UTC Tomi Mori No.58 resumed their course to the south west towards new fishing grounds.

Ari now has a total of 380 liters of fuel on board, plans are not firm yet as the fuel is only enough to cover approximately 600 Nautical Miles, or a little more if the jury rig can be improved and the weather conditions are favourable. Certainly the refuelling operation has put Ari in a much better position as he will at least be able to sail further north and reach the belt of commercial traffic where further refuelling should again be possible.

At this stage the Global Solo Challenge Organisers, Ari Känsäkoski's and all of the ZEROchallenge shore team, wish to express their deepest gratitude to MRCC Reunion, Captain Sachio Hagiya and all the crew of Tomi Maru No. 58 as well as the owning company Taiyo A & F Co for the assistance provided to Ari who can now look up with renewed hope to be able to reach a safe port and salvage his boat despite the enormous distance still to cover.

A big thank you goes also to all those who promptly contributed to the crowdfunding setup to assist Ari with the many costs he will face to salvage and repair his boat. If you wish, you can contribute here

You can also send a message of support to Ari directly to his boat using the form at the bottom of this page here

Continue reading the full article here...

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