Don’t go offshore in an inflatable sailboat
Published on September 7th, 2023
Three people have been rescued in the Coral Sea off the coast of northeastern Australia after their inflatable 29-foot catamaran was damaged by sharks. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) coordinated the rescue early on September 6 roughly 450nm off the coast of Cairns, after receiving a distress beacon.
What an inflatable catamaran was doing far offshore began when two Siberian travelers set off July 2021 along the route of the first Russian round-the-world expeditions of the 19th century. They had initially set out in an inflatable trimaran, but problems somewhere along the route now had them in a catamaran. Hmm…
They made it so far as to Vanuatu in the South Pacific, but for ten days the crew had stopped to seal and reinforce their hulls to feel more confident on big waves. They had also found shark bite marks in the hulls, but as the bites didn’t pierce the material, they determined the craft to be safe. Whoops!
After their departure on August 28, their route toward Australia was interrupted when attacked by sharks on September 4 which damaged the port rear tank. The following day, the catamaran was again attacked by sharks, with the starboard tank becoming damaged.
Now sinking, the crew sent an SOS signal which was received by AMSA. The three crew were located onboard the inflatable multihull which was bound for Cairns, and AMSA requested the assistance of Panama-flagged vehicle carrier Dugong Ace, and tasked the Cairns-based challenger rescue aircraft to the scene.
The three people – two Russian and one French citizen – were successfully rescued by the Dugong Ace. They loaded their personal belongings on to the rescue ship, while the catamaran was left behind. The crew arrived in Brisbane on September 7, 2023.
A comment on their Instagram page noted how the “next catamaran needs to be built tough—with reinforced metal mesh around its floats, perhaps—for the sharks to leave you alone.”
We have a better idea and don’t go offshore in an inflatable boat.