Troubles in Paradise

This year has been a tough one for many people, with fronts and high winds happening all too often. We have been involved in or have listened to, several rescue situations here in the islands.

The first one was a freighter, 180 feet long, disabled and drifting helplessly in 15 to 20 foot seas and high winds. We assisted in radio communications to try to arrange food and water drops and/or rescue. Eventually a tug, from Dominican Republic, was sent to tow them to shore.

Then, we heard of two mega yachts ( over 120 feet ) who sunk near Nassau. One hit a breakwall on the way into Lyford Cay Marina. A cruising friend has been involved in the salvage of one of these vessels. Another 120 foot yacht, took on water and capsized near Long Island. All hands were rescued and the boat towed by a salvager.

A cruising sailboat, on the way to Nassau, was hit at night and damaged by a mail boat. They managed to limp into Nassau for repairs.

On Feb 13th, 2 cruising catamarans were lost off of Mayaguana. All the people, from both boats, managed to get ashore. Again, cruisers assisted with radio communications between the vessels and rescuers.

And, finally, just the other day , Murray was involved in an incident that shook us both. He and Doug, from High Stepper, headed out to snorkel some reefs. Bill, from Sea Crest, had also asked to come along. With Doug and Mur in one dinghy and Bill in another, they headed south in Elizabeth Harbour. Once anchored at a likely spot, they all jumped in the water. Murray was the first one to get out, followed shortly by Doug. Not seeing Bill, Mur asked if Doug had seen him. Yes, he had but not for a few minutes. The two of them stood up in the dinghy and scanned the area, without seeing his head or snorkel. They motored to the other dinghy and checked to make sure he wasn’t hanging on to the far side. Now it had been 15 mins or more. They flagged down a passing powerboat to put out a radio call for assistance in searching. Returning to the reef, they motored slowly, scanning the surrounding waters. Finally, Mur spotted a head about a half mile away. They raced over and pulled Bill aboard, with them. He was exhausted but did not understand why they were so upset with him! He had swum down wave and current to search a far rock. Whether he would have been able to make it back to his own dinghy is debatable.

These events certainly do give us pause to reflect on the dangers we all face out here. It is not an everyday “walk in the park”. But, with caution, weather planning, vessel maintenance and proper seamanship, we manage to avoid the disasters. We plan to continue to do that. As far as we know there has been no loss of life in any of these incidents, although tremendous loss of material goods. Goods and possessions can be replaced, people cannot.

Hugs, Heather & Murray