Would You Sail On This Boat?

Nine times rescued yachtsmen land up in Cornwall

In July 2015 two American yachtsmen, Bob Weise and Steve Shapiro, both 71, left Norway to sail their yacht Nora to the USA city of Maine. Since then they have called rescue teams nine times in seven months and during a TV interview their boat suffered more damage.  Accident prone or what?

Described by some, as “a catastrophe waiting to happen” the two sailors insisted that they were experienced enough for the trip. But it costs between £6,000 and £8,000 every time a lifeboat is launched and the pair have come into much criticism and have been urged to leave UK waters. Their mishaps include two rescues by Norwegian and Danish teams for a damaged propeller shaft and a failed battery; two rescues in Scotland for more propeller trouble; running aground in Northern Ireland; two rescues in Cornwall after a mechanical problem and after one of the pair got into difficulties rowing to his yacht.  The latest disaster happened in Hayle Harbour, Cornwall when their yacht tipped over, causing a fire on board. The harbour master expressed his worry about the sailors’ safety and that of the emergency services and the Falmouth coastguard said that he was not aware of anyone being rescued so many times in such a short period of time.

The RNLI and Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) never put a price on human life and are always prepared to go to the help of anyone in trouble, but one would expect a certain amount of embarrassment and an apology from the pair for their behaviour. Their comment was that they had just as much right to the help of the emergency services as anyone else.

There’s got to be a lesson or two here for us:

  • Make sure your boat is sea worthy.
  • Make sure you and your crew are up to the trip you are making.
  • Don’t unnecessarily endanger others, even if they are the emergency services…. They would be forgiven for eventually thinking “enough is enough!”

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