Rescue: “There was nothing I could do”
Published on May 18th, 2017
(May 18, 2017; Day 7) – When Esprit de Corps IV finished the Antigua Bermuda Race today, the French Canadian Volvo 60 had six extra passengers; Les Crane and the crew of Monterey who had to abandon their sinking Farr 56 in the early hours of Wednesday, May 17, 200 miles from the finish in Bermuda.
“I came up on watch at 4 a.m; we were beating into 10-15 knots but the boat was very comfortable with the wind and the sea state,” explained Crane. “The active watch told me that all was well apart from hearing a bang from below at about 3:30am. I went to investigate and found that the forward head was full of water.
“I got the helmsman to stand the boat up and I drained the head through the pump. I thought I better have a look around and found water in the galley and under the floorboards in the saloon. I then realised we were once again bow down and found a lot of water in the saloon. I got everyone up and while I was trying to figure out what the problem was, the crew used the YB Tracker player to locate Esprit de Corps IV (EDS), which was about four miles behind us.
“Kit Tatum tried to raise them on the radio, but we had a few problems with it, although we realised it was key to get Esprit de Corps’ attention. Jock Macrae started to set off flares and that caught their attention and EDS altered course towards us. We started to get the liferaft ready and deployed it.
“I went back to see if I could identify how to stop the water and by then the bow was filled with about four feet of water and was coming in really quickly. So we got into the liferaft and EDS came up really quickly and took us all on board. I then watched Monterey sink! We have had the boat for 14 years and we’ve sailed 40,000 miles in her, but there was nothing I could do.
“Gilles (Barbot), Maxime (Grimard) and the crew of Esprit de Corps from Montreal are a fabulous bunch of guys. They made us feel so welcome on board and got us all involved in racing the boat. In fact, I was watch leader last night for four hours! I can’t thank them enough for what they have done.”
Tristan Péloquin, crew on Esprit de Corps IV, recalled the urgency of the rescue.
“When the first orange safety flare appeared in the sky, illuminating Esprit de Corps IV’s foredeck, the bearing to take was for once, very obvious,” shared Péloquin. “The whole crew immediately turned to rescue mode.
“The monohull went straight full ahead – engine roaring – in the direction of the distressed ship. Both boats were about four or five miles apart. The first 20 minutes to destination were stressful as we were unable to establish radio communication. What were we to expect? A fire? A man overboard? Worse?
“And then, Les Crane’s calm voice cracked through the static of the radio. Monterey was taking on lots of water, but her six crewman were okay. When we flanked her, the six men were about to board the rescue raft… and to say a last goodbye to Monterey.”
L’Esprit de Corps/Atlas Ocean Racing, Volvo 60, CAN
Gilles Barbot (skipper), Luc DuBois, Simon DuBois, Maxime Grimard, Philippe Lefebvre, Karen Marshall, Tristan Peloquin, Charlotte Rousselot, André Roy, Tiberius Trifu
Monterey, Farr PH 56, BER
Les Crane (skipper), Cam Macrae, Jock Macrae, Bob Medland, Kit Tatum, James Watlington
Source: ABR, The Royal Gazette