40 Days and 40 Nights / Yacht Sara
Une histoire d’un couple d’anglais, qui ne voulait pas abandonner leur bateau au safran bloqué à fond, ils ont tenu 40 jours avant de demander assistance et évacuer et abandonner leur bateau
Je n’avais jamais pensé à ce genre d’incident, ca doit être insupportable d’avoir le safran bloqué à fond ‘un coté
Leur bateau est à 300 milles des Bermudes, ils sont partis du cap vert
40 Days and 40 Nights
February 23, 2009 – Atlantic Ocean
Sara as seen from the deck of Indian Point after sailing circles in the Atlantic for 40 days.
Photo Courtesy Indian Point
© 2009 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.
A British cruising couple were rescued last week after spending more than a month aboard their disabled sailboat in the Atlantic. Stuart Armstrong, 51, and Andrea Davison, 48, had intended to make a two-week transatlantic crossing from the Cape Verde Islands to Antigua aboard their 42-ft sloop Sara. But on January 9, six days into the voyage, the rudder jammed. Reportedly, all attempts to free it were unsuccessful. So were all attempts to counteract or ‘override’ it using drogues.
“In effect, we were sailing round and round in circles,” said Stuart.
The couple had plenty of food and a watermaker. They had fuel and the engine ran, so they had electrical power. They also had a satphone that they used to alert both the British and American Coast Guards, and to let their families know the situation. But at the time, the weather was good and neither Stuart nor Andrea — who had 11 prior transatlantic crossings between them — were particularly bothered, said Stuart, adding, “In hindsight, perhaps we should have been.”
Ten days later the alternator went out. That meant no watermaker. They still had solar panels and a wind generator, which supplied enough juice to run a few lights at night, and to allow them continued use of the satellite phone, albeit sparingly.
Coast Guard stations in both Britain and the U.S. monitored their position but — according to intial reports — because of their remote location, no rescue attempt was launched. (It seems hard to imagine the Coasties would not at least divert a ship to this obviously disabled boat, especially with storms forecast to hit the area.) So Stuart and Andrea just sat tight, played a lot of cards, talked to their families once or twice a week, and hoped they’d eventually drift close enough to the Caribbean or U.S. coast that a ship might intercept them.
Andrea needed assistance to get aboard the supertanker.
Photo Courtesy Indian Point
© 2009 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.
In the weeks following, they were at the mercy of several storms, each one seemingly worse than the one previous. Finally, 40 days after they had left the Cape Verdes, they were rescued by the supertanker Indian Point, which rendezvoused with the yacht on February 18 about 320 miles southwest of Bermuda. By that time Andrea was too weak to climb a rope ladder, so she was put in a safety harness and hoisted aboard. The couple were checked by the ship's medical staff and, save for a few cuts and bruises, given a clean bill of health. They were assigned a cabin for the remainder of the trip, and were due to have arrived in Amsterdam yesterday. The disabled yacht could not be hoisted aboard or towed, so they had to leave her.
“The boat had been our home for eight years,” said Stuart. “Although we have now lost her, at least we still have our lives.”
There’s a thread here that says “Something not right with this story”. That’s spot on! This last weekend, a UK newspaper The Mail on Sunday reported that a British couple had been rescued from their “stricken yacht”, Sara, by an Italian oil tanker after spending “an incredible 40 days drifting across the storm-ravaged Atlantic Ocean.” Full story here. The paper described Stuart Armstrong, 51, and his partner Andrea Davison, 48, as being “tired, exhausted and grateful to be returning home after their six week ordeal in which they ‘stared death in the face’.”
Sky News reported a similar story, under the headline “Brit Couple Saved After 40 Days Lost At Sea”, and other reports appeared in various newspapers and on TV and radio stations. The gist of every story painted a picture of two people, on a yacht with the rudder jammed hard over, so that – according to the Mail and Sunday’s quote from Armstrong “In effect, we were sailing round and round in circles.”, with additional electrical problems which put them almost out of contact with the outside world, except for a once or twice a week phone call to their children.
Commenting on the Indian Point’s response to the couple’s SOS The Mail on Sunday story says that “No other vessel had responded because of the couple’s remote location and also because, according to shipping officials, many captains are wary of distress calls due to piracy fears.” That comment alone would raise eyebrows among anyone in the shipping industry, for the fact is that piracy is almost unknown in the Atlantic Ocean, but there is more. Armstrong also said, according to The Mail on Sunday “The coastguard said it was too dangerous for anyone to come out so we just had to carry on drifting in the middle of the ocean.” Having followed several incidents in which yachtsmen competing in trans-Atlantic races have been rescued thanks to coastguard intervention, BYM News found it impossible to accept the veracity of that statement and spoke to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCGA) in the UK and the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Norfolk, USA (MRCC Norfolk).You can read their combined version of events here.
Clarification des coast guards
clarification des coast guards
This is a precis of their combined version of events:
The first time that either Coast Guard knew anything about the yacht Sara was on January 15, when Falmouth UK Coast Guard received a call from the yacht’s insurance company saying that the vessel appeared to have a problem. The insurance company pointed out that the yacht was not insured, as the owner had failed to advise them that he intended to leave the area for which he was covered by insurance and requested that the UK Coastguard made contact. Falmouth Coastguard sent a text message to the number they had been given and left the telephone number for MRCC Falmouth.
Falmouth Coastguard subsequently spoke to the vessel and was assured that they did not require any assistance; nevertheless, as the yacht was in an area covered by MRCC Norfolk, they informed their US counterpart about the situation.
MRCC Norfolk told BYM News “We were advised by Falmouth on January 19 and contacted Sara. We were informed that she had a stuck rudder, but was on course for Bermuda; they requested weather reports and asked what their options were. Given the vessel’s position, we told them that the only option was to divert a merchant ship to take them off the yacht. They said they didn’t want to do that, but asked if a commercial vessel could divert and provide someone to effect repairs. We put out an EGC to that effect, but received no response.”
(Editor’s note: EGC is an acronym for Enhanced Group Call, whereby a message is sent via Inmarsat to vessels in the vicinity of another vessel that has a problem.)
On January 25, the yacht informed Falmouth Coastguard that their alternator had failed and asked if a tow could be arranged. Falmouth advised that it would not be possible for a merchant vessel to tow a yacht and were advised that was understood. It was again stated that the couple did not want to abandon the yacht.
Both Falmouth and MRCC Norfolk tracked the vessel on an almost daily basis and have incident logs containing numerous text messages and phone calls, which describe a situation of a yacht making its way, albeit slowly to Bermuda. Weather conditions were never reported as cause for concern and it was never suggested that the vessel was in distress: no emergency was ever declared. This does not fit The Mail on Sunday’s description of a yacht “Being thrown around in high seas at the mercy of fierce winds.”
It may be correct that the couple had only phoned their children once or twice a week, but there is no doubt that they were in more frequent contact with both US and UK Coast Guards and with a Canadian radio ham called Herb Hilgenberg. It was Hilgenberg that contacted MRCC Norfolk and caused them to divert the Indian Point to take the couple off Sara, when they were around 300 miles SSE of Bermuda, after they had told him “We have had enough.”
On receiving Hilgenberg’s message, MRCC Norfolk sent out an EGC requesting ships within 100 miles of Sara to advise their positions with a view to diverting to evacuate the occupants. The version of events that has the Indian Point as being the only vessel willing to assist is simply untrue; four other vessels indicated their willingness to divert, the Indian Point was chosen as it was closest at around 5 hours steaming distance. It would indeed have been surprising if only one vessel had answered the EGC since, as a Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman pointed out “Under international law, vessels are required to assist another vessel in distress if required to do so.” MRCC Norfolk engaged in dialogue with the Indian Point before Armstrong and Davison were evacuated, since Armstrong had stated that arthritis meant that the woman would not be able to climb a rope ladder hung from the side of the tanker.
BYM News has tried to contact both The Mail on Sunday and the rescued couple, to ascertain why their stories and those of the UK and USA rescue services are at such variance. Like most UK Sunday newspapers, The Mail on Sunday staff are not available on Mondays and the Indian Point did not respond to calls to its Inmarsat telephone.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 24 February 2009 )
pour ces infos. C'est vrai que cela fait réfléchir... un safran bloqué.
Je vais essayer un truc la prochaine fois que je suis en mer, tribort ou babord toute avec le safran, et avec le safran auxiliaire du régul, je vais voir ce que je peux faire.
je le coupe
si ca m'arrive loin de tout, d'abord je plonge et vais voir ce que il est possible de faire. Si rien à faire je le coupe et en fabrique un de fortune.
c'était , c'est, ils ont survécu un couple anglais assez agé
avec la dame atteinte d'arthrite severe, je ne crois pas qu'il a pu debloquer le safran mais je susi sur qu'il a essayé, leur bateau était leur seul domicile depuis 8 ans