Harken Derm

Dealing with the abandoned boat

Published on January 8th, 2019

It is one thing for adventure seekers to rely on the friendly rescue services of agencies around the world, but quite another when the boat they are abandoning becomes an environmental and safety hazard for the local communities.

Here’s an update (January 8, 2019) from when 16-year old Abby Sunderland (USA) attempted in 2010 to become the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe:


The abandoned yacht “Wild Eyes” was sighted again two days ago by commercial fishermen much closer to the shores of Kangaroo Island. The yacht was spotted about two kilometres off Cape Kersaint, just west of Vivonne Bay, by local commercial rock lobster fisherman Ben Tyley.

Ben’s father Lance Tyley also said a representative from Abby Sunderland’s family had also been making extensive inquiries to local commercial fishing and charter operators about getting the vessel salvaged.

“It would be very difficult operation to recover and tow her anywhere and we are all so busy, any of us would want to get paid for the job,” Mr Tyley said.

Rock lobster and southern bluefin tuna fishing operators meanwhile want to the yacht removed from their fishing grounds as they say it is a navigation hazard.

The overturned vessel captured the world’s attention after it was found off the coast of Kangaroo Island on New Year’s Eve and identified as the “Wild Eyes” by SA Police Water Operations Unit.

The vessel was spotted from the air by a tuna spotting plane about 11 nautical miles south of Vivonne Bay about 12.30pm on Monday, December 31. The police helicopter (PolAir) was sent to investigate, along with two tuna industry vessels operating nearby.

American River Volunteer Marine Radio operator Carol Miell as well as local Kangaroo Island Police and Australian Volunteer Coast Guard were also involved in the initial attempts to identify the vessel.

“After we heard that it was a vessel about 30-foot long, my immediate thoughts was that it was a round-the-world solo yacht,” Mrs Miell said. “I knew the only larger boats operating down there are our cray fishing boys and the tuna boats and it wasn’t one of them.”

She thought it could have been one of many round-the-world yachts that had been dismasted over the years, including the Golden Globe Race. The boat was indeed subsequently identified as the “Wild Eyes”, which had been abandoned eight years ago in the middle of the Indian Ocean during a round the world voyage. – Full report

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