The annual 600 nautical mile Darwin to Ambon race to the capital of the Spice Islands attracts entries from blue water sailors from Australia and the world.
After achieving a highly credible 3rd place in its division of the 2011 race, the Australian registered yacht Shady Lady with a crew of three ran into serious trouble on the return leg to Australia.
Peter Charles, Shady Lady’s skipper takes up the story:
“I went below to make breakfast, saw water under the floor plates and instantly knew something was wrong” Peter explained. “A further inspection revealed an unmanageable ingress of salt water. It was impossible to control, or even locate the leak, due to the level of water and how fast it was rising.”
Fortunately, the crew had planned well and had a 'grab bag' with a GME MT400 406 MHz EPIRB on board which was quickly transferred, with other emergency supplies to the yacht’s tender. Recognising the gravity of their situation, the three immediately activated their MT400 and, given their location, were amazed that an Australian Customs Dash 8 aircraft was on scene in little over three hours. The plane then provided much welcome comfort overhead whilst the RCC in Canberra coordinated a rescue with the help of the merchant vessel Go Canopus, with the Darwin based Dornier providing further top cover.
After a slightly scary, but very professional transfer to the bigger ship, the crew travelled on board Go Canopus to the Torres Strait where they were transferred from the ship to shore by the local Water Police. From the MT400’s initial detection to the recovery by the GO CANOPUS the survivors were adrift for seven hours. Back on Terra Firma, the crew of Shady Lady expressed their heart felt thanks to the RCC staff, Australian Customs and Border Protection and everyone else that played a part in their rescue. They were astounded at the efficiency of their rescue and are most grateful for everyone’s efforts on this occasion.
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