Cruise ship recovers solo sailor from life raft

Monday 21 January 2013
Cruise ship, PV Orion, has successfully recovered a solo sailor who had spent 56 hours in a life raft in the Southern Ocean after his yacht was de-masted in rough weather last week.
Media Release

The sailor is now being taken to Hobart, due to arrive early tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. He is in generally good health, with minor superficial injuries.

The recovery operation took around one hour, with better than expected weather assisting the Master and crew of the Orion to effect a successful rescue.

The rescue operation, which lasted three days, involved up to five aircraft who maintained near continuous communication with the sailor while PV Orion made its way towards the life raft.

The aircraft also made several supply drops to the sailor, including food, water, communications equipment, additional life rafts and a survival suit. A number of challenges presented throughout the operation, including communication difficulties with the French-native sailor. French interpreters were on board two of the aircraft to help gain more specific information about the sailor’s condition.

The solo sailor’s yacht was de-masted and suffered hull damage in rough weather conditions during his round the world journey.

An associate of the sailor contacted AMSA early on Friday morning after the yacht had been de-masted. After making contact with the sailor, who did not declare he was in distress at the time, AMSA advised him to head towards Hobart.

At approximately 1:00pm AEDT that afternoon, AMSA detected an emergency beacon activation from the sailor 500 nautical miles south west of Hobart.

AMSA issued a broadcast to shipping and the PV Orion, at the time more than 600 nautical miles from the position of the yacht, diverted course to begin the 60 hour journey to the life raft.

The experienced sailor had been at sea for several months.

AMSA wishes to thank all the people involved in the rescue operation, including the Master and crew of the PV Orion and French interpreters from Alliance Francaise de Hobart.

The aircraft involved included AMSA’s Essendon-based Dornier, two RAAF C130s from Richmond in NSW and two commercial aircraft.