Four adults and one child were resuced from their sailboat by a US Coast Guard helicopter this week. They were 175 nautical miles west-northwest of Bermuda when their sailboat became disabled.
They were aboard their 47 foot sailboat, Panache on their way to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, from Annapolis, Md. They contacted the Coast Guard via satallite phone requesting assistance when they lost steering and propulsion. They had winds of more than 30 knots and the seas were 15 feet.
Thankfully all aboard were rescued and safely delivered to Bermuda. However, this leaves me with a few questions. I guess first in my mind is…where’s the boat? Just floating around…wouldn’t you like to be the one to salvage that puppy? Then again, how do you lose propulsion in a sailboat? 30 knot winds should be something a 47 foot sailboat could handle. I would think at 30 knots it would be good sailing.
Although it’s pretty hard to sail without steering. So what happened to the emergency rudder? Didn’t they have one and if not why not? Seems to me if they’d had some form of wind-self steering they could have made Bermuda on their own and just called for help into the harbor/marina.
Of course, sitting on the hard in front of my computer it’s pretty easy to think these things. I know I wouldn’t care to venture out even to cruise along the coast line without some form of emergency steering. Sailing off to me means being self-sufficent and it’s obvious they didn’t prepare well. So, as a nagging mother hen…if you’re going off on the big blue, be sure to have spare parts and emergency equipment. The US Coast Guard is not ‘911 I’ve fallen on the ocean and can’t get up.’
Taking your sailboat off shore and making tropical landfall is the dream of many sailors. Learn all you can before you go, expect the best and plan for the worst.
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