The ARC communications net proved its worth today, enabling help to reach a damaged yacht over 350 nautical miles out from St.Lucia.
At 10:20 UTC today (13/12/01) an EPIRB distress signal was picked up from the Swiss yacht Heya, participating in the ARC. However, due to a technical problem with the yacht's satellite telephone, officers at the Maritime Rescue Control Centre [MRCC] in Martinique were unable to contact the yacht to obtain details of the emergency.
Using the ARC communications net, and an alert was pass out to the fleet in an attempt to contact Heya. Several yachts in the area of Heya's last reported position and were able to assist. Using a system of relays, contact with Heya was made, and the MRCC informed of a steering failure on the yacht. Two ARC yachts, and a merchant vessel diverted to assist the five man crew on the 37ft Heya.
At 17:30UTC the first vessel rendezvoused with Heya and MRCC were able to assess the situation using a communications relay involving the ARC yachts Chellers nd White Sands. A decision was made to send a tug out from St.Lucia to tow in the yacht, as the sea conditions were too severe for other yachts to place a tow. The tug Saga Moon has now left St.Lucia and expects to rendezvous with the damaged yacht by 06:00UTC tomorrow (Friday).
All crew aboard Heya are reported well and the yacht is not in any immediate danger. The tow is expected to bring them into St.Lucia on Saturday or Sunday depending on weather conditions. ARC yachts Chellers and White Sands are standing by as communications relay yachts.
In other ARC news, more yachts continue to arrive at Rodney Bay Marina, bringing the total to date up to 130 yachts finished. The next two days will be the busiest in terms of numbers of finishers, with the majority of yachts expected in by the end of the weekend.