Sunday 25th June 2017
We were enjoying dinner on shore after the first days clinic, and that was going to be the topic of tonight’s blog- not the meal but the clinic and the official start of the National Oral Health Survey
Then, as we were discussing the day’s activities, a concerned looking chief Johnson and a group of men approached us out of the evening darkness asking, “Captain Rob, there is a yacht, hit rocks off the white beach coming into the bay. It has sent up red flares. They are on the radio”
Sure enough, I pulled out my mobile VHF radio and there was the distinct German accent … “we have deployed the life raft, we are sinking, can some one help us please”
Now here’s a first! But from then on, “Team MSM Chimere” swung into action, accompanied by half a dozen strong, fit Ni-Van men.
“Ship in distress, ship in distress, this is yacht Chimere coming to your assistance, we will be with you shortly, do you copy?!!!”
“We are sinking, can you come and help us?”, the voice was full of concern
After explaining to the medical team what we knew of the situation, all of the sailing team, along with the Ni-vans made our way down to the dinghy and out to Chimere. All the while giving reassurance on channel 16 to an evermore urgent voice from the darkness
Once aboard Chimere it was a case of quickly preparing Chimere for sea, taking down deck awnings, starting the motor – putting the steering wheel back on, yes don’t ask – and then winching up the anchor.
Anchor winch wont work, how can that be??!! Why now for goodness sake. Great to have a bunch of fit locals aboard!
“Ni-vans, pull on that chain!!!”
So it was that 40 metres of 13mm chain, maybe 150-200kg in all was retrieved along with the 40kg anchor, in record time!! One big pile on deck.
Gerry then took the helm, supported amazingly by Annette, Deb, Peter and Martin, with Daniels ample supply of toughly muscles put to good use winching the small dinghy higher on the stern davits out of the way of the tow lines. Meanwhile I headed off out to sea at speed in the dinghy with Ware in the bow with his torch
“We see your lights, we will be with you shortly” I radioed
“Ya we see you” came the reply
The wind was behind us as we travelled as fast as we dared in the darkness and the rising seas the further we got offshore.
We could clearly see the masthead light of the yacht, so it was obviously not quite under the water yet, and as we came alongside the deployed orange life raft hung off the stern along with their dinghy, in a surreal kind of “survivor movie” fashion.
It was then a case of reassuring the men, assessing more completely the state of their boat and the water leak and radioing this back to Chimere so they could prepare in advance of their arrival; still maybe 15 – 20 minutes behind us
To cut a long and rather intense story short, Ware clambered aboard the yacht to assist them pull their anchor and 30 metres of dangling chain up, while I assisted with the attachment of two tow lines (from the dinghy) as Chimere did a slow pass.
From then on it seemed to continue as a text book rescue, even though we just kept making it up as we went along; planning and adjusting our actions as necessary
The 2 mile return to the bay was done at around 3 knots with the rudder-less yacht gliding smoothly behind after Gerry had completed the initial wide turn to home.
Another yacht in the harbour used their dinghy to pick up our portable generator from shore – it was being used to provide lighting in the hall where we had enjoyed dinner- and after coming to anchor we rafted the other yacht alongside and went aboard with our high capacity pump to assist in pumping her out
I must say it was a sobering experience to enter their saloon and be ankle deep in water, and to see stuff floating around all over the place … every boat owner’s nightmare!!
Our mobile 240volt pump and 35mm hose did its job and things began to calm down a bit.
In summary, without the depth of experience aboard in the amazingly talented and diverse crew, plus the resources we have packed aboard at our disposal, this episode might well have ended very differently
As it is we now have two very relieved German sailors aboard their “saved” yacht rafted up alongside and a bunch of very tired puppies on Chimere fast falling asleep in their bunks.
No doubt there’ll be more to report tomorrow!! It’ll be a story to dine out on for years to come no doubt
Smooth seas, fair breeze and sea rescue ends well!!
Look what we “caught”… a 40 foot yacht!
The chart plotter tells the story … two miles out and two miles back