Littering the ocean with a boat

Published on February 14th, 2018

What should you do when you see a yacht floating with no of signs of life? Well that question was asked onboard the Volvo Ocean Race team Turn the Tide on Plastic as they beam reached in northeasterly trades toward New Zealand.

“We were sailing within sight of Brunel (to leeward) and to weather we saw another yacht close to our track,” explained skipper Dee Caffari, positioned 1400 nm to the east of the Philippines. “We looked through the binoculars as there was no sign on the AIS software and contacted race control.

“We called on the VHF with no response and race control confirmed there was no active SAR (search and rescue) in the area. Our onboard reporter sent up the drone for a closer inspection and to get some identification for the vessel.

“We collected some images and sent them back to race control and they confirmed the vessel was the abandoned vessel, Sea Nymph. Many may remember a big news story in the US last October, regarding the rescue of two women and a dog from the vessel on their way to Hawaii. Well this was that vessel all these months later.

“She was sitting pretty low in the bow and her mainsail was washed over the side but the rest of her looked like she would make a nice cruiser. We discussed salvage rights for a while and estimated that the race director would not give us redress if we towed her to Auckland while racing.

“So there she sits a hazard to shipping, a risk to islands, reefs and atolls and slowly not going anywhere. We are grateful we saw her during the day as this could have been a very different story had we come across her at night. She was floating stern to us with no lights or signal being given out, there is no way we would have seen her.

“I just hope now we have given authorities the position there is a chance for salvage or for scuttling her to prevent a far worse disaster in our oceans. We are asking you not to litter the oceans with plastic and here we have a whole yacht floating aimlessly in our oceans!”

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2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

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