Mayday, mayday, vessel on the rocks taking on water….
That was the call we heard yesterday. Our hearts beat a little faster and I ran to the radio to take down the information and quickly plot the position. We were currently too far away to be of much help, but continued to monitor the situation. Eventually, we heard that it was a 65 ft ketch on the reef near Black Cay. He had been holed and was taking on water rapidly. Several smaller boats were circling him, and assisting in removing personal effects etc to the nearby beach. Requests went out on the radio for a large capacity pump and everyone in the area scrambles to try to locate one to save the vessel.
By the time we drew close, the water had virtually filled the vessel and the captain was ready to give up. A pump arrived shortly thereafter, supplied from the army base near George Town. It was a large one and had a diesel motor. We called in to the vessel co-ordinating the rescue and offer our assistance. But, with our deep draft and the seas that were running, it was difficult for us to be of any help. They thanked us, and suggested that we maintain our present course. We continued on towards George Town, with one ear always tuned to the radio. It wasn’t long before we heard that the captain had given up and was abandoning the ship. All the crew and the ship’s cat were safe, and hopefully, with a lot of their belongings. They were taken to a nearby town and looked after by the locals.
On our return north the following day, we again contacted the co-ordinating vessel that was on still on scene. He told us that the coach roof of the boat had been destroyed overnight in the pounding surf. The vessel had broken free of the reef and come to rest against the rock outcropping. The family was still recovering some belongings from the boat, but had managed to get most of their personal things off the day before. The ship’s cat was missing at the time, but, as the island was very small, they expected to recover him shortly. We extended our sympathy to the family and our praise to the people that had worked so hard to help them. It was a very difficult situation and handled extremely well by the volunteers in the area.
So, we will watch our course lines even more carefully. Keep our eyes open for reefs. And monitor the radio for other boats in trouble. And perhaps consider having a large pump available for situations just like this one.
Love & Hugs, Heather & Murray