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Vicki's account


Ian asked us to make a short statement about our experiences so here goes nothing.  

After we lost contact with Rhumb Do we decided to follow the general advice available about coping in heavy weather and head away from land and put out further to sea. We were hoping that the sea would flatten off and we could then start to make some headway.

Darren hand steered for hours as our wind steering gear wouldn't work and the tiller pilot couldn't cope with the conditions. After hours of this we were both exhausted and the weather was getting worse and worse. We decided to heave to and try and rest but unfortunately Sentito wouldn't sit into the wind, instead sitting beam on to the waves. We spent the night like this, putting out all ships messages to warn others of our position.

The weather got worse and we were sat over at a 45-60 degree angle with waves breaking over us every few minutes. The boat was being constantly knocked down. We realised the situation was serious. When daylight came we changed the VHF messages to PAN PAN. We were hoping for assistance from a ship in the area to shelter us and allow us time to turn boat around and sort the sails out. Conditions at this point were too dangerous to go on deck.

We received contact from Finisterre Traffic Control who told us the conditions were due to continue for another two days. The only option made available to us was for Finisterre to contact the search and rescue service on our behalf. There was no other help. The boat was showing serious signs of problems. The rig was coming loose and the middle sealed bilge was full of water. That could only mean our bolt on keel was in danger of parting company with the boat.

We made the sad decision to leave the boat.

A London based tanker came alongside and sheltered us for long enough to get the sails down and calmed the waves enough to allow us to jump into the sea. We were airlifted into a helicopter and taken the La Coruna airport. End of an era.

We cannot thank those involved enough for all the help we received. The guys from the helicopter were great and the London tanker saved us from drowning in the water.

The crew of Sentito live to fight another day!