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Old 19 September 2002, 19:40   #1
Richard B's Avatar
Country: UK - England
Town: Berkshire and Devon
Make: Lodestar
Length: under 3m
Engine: Mercury 5hp
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 5,015
Dramatic mid-channel rescue

I'm posting this as I hope it's helpful to Charles and all of you who know him.

He's had a very rough cross channel epic, and as I type this, I hope that he and Fiona are getting some sleep after the traumatic events. I'll be brief so that Charles can expand on the details.

Charles, Fiona and a good friend of theirs, Simon, left Lymington yesterday (Thursday) morning in their new Scorpion 9.5m sports cruiser on a passage back to St Helier. The forecast was F4, decreasing to F3 and down to F1 later. However the sea state was very testing, but manageable to someone of Charles' ability, until it became apparent that the boat was taking on water. Huge breaking waves were turning the situation serious very quickly.

A pan-pan call, and later a mayday call were broadcast, resulting in a major rescue, with all crew and the craft being recovered to Alderney.

All three are safe and well, but they're obviously shocked, upset and shaken. The RIB's in one piece (engines stayed out of the water).

In true heroic style, Charles was talking about posting his epic here just an hour after getting home, so I've put the bare bones together as an intro (assuming that Charles wants to write about it) and to avoid any rumours getting escalated or mis-quoted.

And Fiona might not let him out to play for a little while.


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Old 20 September 2002, 01:06   #2
Country: UK - Scotland
Town: Highlands
Boat name: Quicksilver
Make: Quicksilver
Length: 3m +
Engine: Mariner 15hp
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Posts: 1,771
Hope you, your crew and the boat are all okay Charles

Keith ( seas damage boat Hart
rough can your )

Small boat - BIG truck
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Old 20 September 2002, 01:55   #3
Country: UK - England
Town: St Mawes
Boat name: Magellan Zulu
Make: Ribcraft
Length: 7m +
Engine: 2 x Suzuki DF150
MMSI: 235094135
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 483
Very glad indeed it didn't end in disaster for Charles and Fiona. And, for that matter, for us. Yes, there were some other silly buggers out there, too. Including the Garsides.

We left Hugh Town, St Mary's at about 1130 on the same premise of F4 falling to F1 and went straight out into an E'ly on the nose. I have to say it was one of the roughest trips I've done for a while. Up to F6 by the time we bulldozed our way to the Lizard.

Just glad I had a cabin cos, otherwise, it would have been more'n a little wet. Green stuff was going right over the roof and filling the, thankfully, small cockpit.

The new Yanmar behaved impecably and having the big reserves of power was very comforting.

But I have to say I felt more than a little irresponsible tackling that sort of stuff with only a single engine....
Mike G
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Old 20 September 2002, 04:29   #4
Country: UK - England
Town: Edenbridge
Boat name: Scorpion
Make: Scorpion 8.5mtr
Length: 8m +
Engine: 315hp Yanmar Diesel
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 696

Glad to hear your ok charles. What happened.??
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Old 20 September 2002, 05:52   #5
Country: Canada
Town: Newfoundland
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Charles, Glad to hear you are all OK. Interested in your story when you feel like posting!

Mike - What speed are your getting from your new engine?

Do tell!

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Old 20 September 2002, 08:39   #6
Country: USA
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Home safe...

I'm glad to read all turned out well for everyone. I'd really miss not having a resident hairdresser on board.
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Old 20 September 2002, 08:57   #7
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See what happens when you have a go at Alan P? He shares his weather with you!

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Old 20 September 2002, 11:08   #8
Country: Other
Make: FB 55
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Account of Rescue

Hello all

We departed Lymington at 09:05 on Thursday morning 19 September 2002, after filing a passage plan to the Solent Coast Guard. Our planned route was to take my wife Fiona and close friend, Simon and myself, across the Channel in a SSW direction through the Alderney Race and directly to the north coast of Jersey and on to
St. Helier. The fuel we had on board afforded us a range of approximately 300nm. Total distance was no more than 100nm. All the necessary precautions (weather forecast, etc.) were taken, as well as the correct safety equipment was on board.

We turned to port as we past the Needles and opened the throttles on my newly acquired Scorpion Sportscruiser. The first half and hour or so was completed at a reasonable speed, 35knts. This was not to be maintained however, as the seas were building and cresting waves were threatening with the occasional one breaking over us. I slowed down to approximately 23knts and the RIB was performing superbly at this speed, quite comfortable too. It was after an hour or so at which point I slowed down for a comfort break, opened the cabin door to grab some Mars Bars and to our horror found the entire cabin flooded. A quick inspection revealed water ingress on either side of the cabin, but we could not see any visible damage as it is laid out with carpeting and difficult to access. Simon started bailing water with a bucket and I kept us on course for approximately another hour at a speed of only 8/9 knts. The boat was feeling very sluggish, unbeknown to us, the hull was rapidly filling with water too.

At about this time I picked up the mic and signalled a pan pan call as I felt we were still moving and we were fairly in control with bailing all the water out. I managed to speak to a passing freight container ship and requested he relay our call to Guernsey radio. Unfortunately the radio operator was of Asian descent (not that I have anything against Asians, mind you!) and he somewhat ‘cocked up’ our description of the situation. Most concerning was the incorrect lat and long was given. I could go on for a few hours describing the chaos that ensued with every passing ship and nationality wanting to talk to us, but I do not want to bore you with all this!!

The GPS/Plotter indicated 23nm to Alderney when the next stage of the drama unfolded. A very large 12/15 foot wave broke right over our port bow and ripped the entire tube off from the bow to approximately amidships. At this time the valves tore out inside the cabin and water flooded in from the large 4 holes on either side. Within seconds we were knee-deep in water and I escalated our predicament to a mayday call. We were lucky to have been in range for our mobile telephones to operate and Simon placed a call to Gsy radio, whilst I was on the VHF. The logic behind the mobile phone usage was that it was a ‘closed communication’ medium and confusion was ruled out. The Alderney Life-boat had already been launched and we monitored the communication between them and other vessels in the area. The most frustrating part in all of this was the fact that the Italians, French, Chinese etc, etc, were all directing them AWAY from us. Our position was NNW 17nm from Alderney. The life-boat was heading due north and we believe about 9nm away.

It was then we spotted the French rescue helicopter and I quickly fired a flare which they spotted and turned straight towards us. In the meantime we were knee to waist deep in water and moving forwards at about 3knts. I am not sure what the weight would be, but the entire hull as well as deck area was flooded. The French helicopter winched a diver down who assessed the situation as the Alderney life-boat came into view. We still do not know why, but the French then lowered a huge 2 stroke pump onto my boat, fired this thing up and attempted to pump all the water out. It was a futile exercise as the level remained the same. The Alderney crew suggested to the French that they take over the rescue (much to our joy!) and winched their man with all his kit back into the chopper.

We were thrown a line and the tow proceeded towards Braye harbour. After approximately half an hour the coxswain instructed us to prepare to abandon the rib, I assured him it would not sink, but he insisted to which we conceded. They came alongside and we scrabbled onto the lifeboat. Two of their crew then got onto the rib.

Arrived in Alderney two hours later and the rib was immediately lifted out the water.

I would like to publicly thank all the residents of Alderney (some I do know frequent this forum), in particular the Alderney RNLI who were as usual, absolutely fantastic.

Pictures to follow……………….
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Old 20 September 2002, 11:13   #9
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Old 20 September 2002, 11:14   #10
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