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All sailors rescued from mid-Atlantic after violent storm

June 10, 2017 6:28 PM
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All sailors rescued from mid-Atlantic after violent storm

Tea and scones with clotted cream for skipper rescued by Queen Mary 2

Crew members aboard three sailing boats that were stranded after encountering hurricane-force winds during a transatlantic race on Friday have been rescued.

Another boat that was previously in distress has managed to recover and continue on its way, said a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Navy.

The race's blog said five boats in total had run into trouble, including the Bulgarian boat Furia, which reportedly sank. Crew on that boat were rescued by the survey vessel Thor Magna, the blog stated.

Navy Lt. Len Hickey said earlier Saturday that a vessel had issued a new emergency call and was taking on water about 250 nautical miles (460 kilometres) from St. John's, N.L.

The Furia sets out from Plymouth, England, on the first day of the Royal Western Yacht Club's transatlantic race. (Paul Gibbins Photography/Royal Western Yacht Club)

The Canadian coast guard vessel Pearkes, which had originally been dispatched to the mid-Atlantic for the rescue, was diverted to help that stranded boat, Hickey said.

The Dutch sailboat Happy lost its mast and both crew members were rescued by the tug ALP Forward, the race's blog said.

The U.K. cruise liner Queen Mary 2 was about 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) north of the Tamarind when the crew got a phone call from the U.K. coast guard saying that the yacht was in need of assistance.

The massive vessel arrived at about 10 a.m. Saturday and lowered its rescue boat alongside the yacht shortly afterwards, said Queen Mary 2 Capt. Chris Wells.

The British sailboat Tamarind was severely damaged in a violent storm during the race. (Paul Gibbins Photography/Royal Western Yacht Club)

"I think he had a difficult night," Wells said of the skipper. "Around 10 metre seas is very high in a small boat like that. The windows were stove in, he had water in the boat and he had no steering."

The skipper has had an opportunity to phone his wife and change into dry clothes, Wells said, adding that he invited him to partake of the cruise liner's afternoon tea with "a nice cup of tea, some cakes, some sandwiches and proper scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam."

"He's very, very grateful that he is on board and I think he will have a much more comfortable ride to Halifax on board Queen Mary 2 than he would have done on his 38-foot yacht," Wells said.

Two other British sailboats that were damaged, the Harmonii and the Suomi Kudu, were able to leave the storm area under their own power after damage to the mainsails.

Earlier Saturday, Hickey said a merchant vessel rescued two people on one of the boats.

A Cormorant helicopter from the Royal Canadian Air Force was also dispatched from Gander, N.L., to help.

The Royal Canadian Navy had sent HMCS Charlottetown to the area, but Hickey said the ship was called off and is now continuing with its usual sailing schedule.

The Canadian coast guard vessel Cygnus and two civilian tankers were initially dispatched to the scene, and the Royal Canadian Air Force sent a CC-130 Hercules and a CP-140 Aurora from 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia.

The director of race said Saturday morning that all the sailors are safe.

"As far as we're concerned, everybody's OK," said John Lewis. "We're in direct contact with them. ... The majority are OK."

"Obviously the conditions have been extreme and have caused some damage, but in general the fleet is OK, albeit some have needed assistance," Lewis said.

"You've obviously got to reduce sail area, you put out a drogue, which stops the boat going very fast — it's a kind of a sea anchor — and you sit down and hunker out."

Weather conditions in the area at the time were reported as stormy with hurricane-force winds between 90 and 130 km/h and seas of 10 to 15 metres.

The race, which began on May 29, takes sailors from Plymouth in southwest England to Newport, R.I.


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