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Being stranded out at sea is a nightmare that we usually see in movies or read about in novels. For the Coombes family from Cornwall, England, this nightmare became a reality during their transatlantic crossing this past December.
James and Fran Coombes, accompanied by their two children Heath (age nine) and Isla (age seven) and crew Tony White, were sailing their 52 ft. Hanse Sloop from England to the Caribbean when they lost their rudder approximately 400 NM east of Barbados.
Skipper James battled 18 ft seas for three days and nights in an attempt to rig a temporary rudder, setting out drogues and fighting the elements before he made the decision to abandon his vessel and accept rescue from nearby vessels.Fortunately, The Dove II was equipped with a satellite telephone which they used to phone the UK Coastguard in Falmouth, and the Coastguard in Martinique.
Merchant ships Asia Pearl and Newseas Jade attended and attempted rescue, before our very own Discovery 67 yacht Tilly Mint of Cowes arrived and successfully rescued the stricken family.
When TILLY MINT arrived on the scene, Fran, the children and Tony disembarked via a six-man life raft. James stayed on board, attempting to get the boat to point downwind. However, the mainsheet and lazy jacks snapped, and then the genoa sheet snapped. He managed to furl in the genoa, but dropping the main was too dangerous on his own. Before abandoning the yacht, James left the diesel engine running to keep the batteries charged and the AIS system transmitting. The Coombes family is currently stuck in St. Martin. They are offering a $10,000 reward for the safe recovery of their yacht. The Dove II was left 500 east of Antigua and is described as having a light grey hull with a red bimini.
For more information on the rescue, visit the family’s blog at www.westerlyadventures.wordpress.com