Detour to Bermuda for rescue

Published on December 7th, 2022

The plan for Willie, Geoff, Chris, and Tim was to deliver the J/133 Vamoose to Antigua from Newport, RI. At least that was the plan until help was needed… Willie Dresser explains:


We received a call December 4 at 4:20am from the 44-foot custom trimaran Buddy asking if we can give assistance 250 nautical miles northwest of Bermuda. We wrote down their coordinates and discerned that they were about 10 miles behind us.

We continued a VHF conversation, taking down as much basic information as possible. We turned downwind toward them and established better coms, and quickly learned they were in trouble and needed assistance. Tim emitted an audible “holy sh#t” so I made the turn towards Buddy.

Their plan was to abandon ship when we got there. Geoff woke up Chris and told him what was going on. We altered course toward them eight miles away and began to talk about what we would do when got there. When we got in sight of the mast head light at about two miles away, we gathered our crew to make sure everyone knew what to do and the location of the first-aid kit.

Sail GP

Once we got abeam of the sinking trimaran, Geoff and Chris went up forward and fasted the jib and main. I proceeded to start the engine and round up from downwind of their boat. Geoff radioed to them that we were set to receive, so they proceeded to jump in their AB dinghy and drifted off.

The conditions were 15-foot breakers with 53 knot gusts recorded, and when we came around they were too close to the sinking sailboat, so we had to loop around and wait for them to drift off around 6-7 boat lengths. Once ready we took them at the gate on the port side and rounded over to them, so they were on leeward not getting the spray.

We threw them a line and pulled them into the break of the lifelines at midship where Geoff, Tim, and Chris pulled all three of the Buddy crew – Laura Shulman, Ryan Finn, and Tomasz Dvorak – on board.

Catching our breath, we got to know our new crew, getting them below deck to check for injuries. Tomasz had minor cuts on their hand, but it was non-life threatening and could clean and wrapp it up. We raised the sails and turned Vamoose to Bermuda, noting how about 90 minutes later their AIS stopped transmitting.

It was 29 hours after the rescue when we showed up in Bermuda flying the biggest spinnaker we had with the help of our new crew, setting a boat speed record of 16.8 knots. Bermuda radio came on to report the buoy for the Mill’s Breaker was nowhere to be found, so we rounded up and surfed our way through Higgs lagoon onto town cut where we met customs/reporter on the dock.

After getting checked in followed by dinner courtesy of the Buddy crew at the White Horse Tavern, we are getting ready to set our sails for Antigua – weather permitting – on December 9.

Team Vamoose:
• William Dresser – Helm/Author – Hingham, MA
• Geoff Manchester – Captain/Communication/Nav – Newport, RI
• Chris Lash – Watch Captain – Cambridge, MA
• Tim McKenna – Swamp juice coinsurer – Chicago, IL

J/133 Vamoose in racing form.

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