Storms spoil solo circumnavigation

Published on October 29th, 2023

Polish adventure-seeker Arek Pawelek was on a mission to solo circumnavigate the globe, non-stop and unassisted in his 5-metre boat Elblag. But following his departure on September 28 from Plymouth, England, difficult weather and physical injuries forced him to stop on October 17.

After a storm damaged his windvane, and a wave washed him overboard, he managed to get back on board but had to continually hand steer in wet clothes, and was hypothermic and felt severe pain in his spine and chest with trouble breathing.

Due to the weather forecast predicting strong storms in the following days and the deteriorating physical condition of the sailor, a decision was made to evacuate and a rescue operation began.

A tanker was the first to approach Elbląg, but Pawelek was physically unable to climb onto it. A helicopter and a SAR ship were sent, but these units could not undertake the evacuation due to difficult weather conditions. Ultimately, a Navy ship was dispatched.

After several attempts, Pawelek was picked up from his boat on October 18by the crew of a Portuguese Navy ship, more than 15 hours after the start of the operation.

By October 21, s/y Elbląg was found on a sandy beach in Portugal and will be transported to Pawelek’s home in Poland.

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