Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
The global site for cruising sailors
Sections
You are here: Home / Countries / Canada / Canadian sailor rescued from sinking yacht in the South Pacific

Canadian sailor rescued from sinking yacht in the South Pacific

By The Globe & Mail — last modified Apr 15, 2014 03:00 PM
For five desperate days, Art Munneke was alone on his sinking yacht in the South Pacific seas, losing hope while bailing water from a sailboat severely damaged by a storm, more than 1,100 kilometres from the nearest island. This news article courtesy of The Globe & Mail.

Published: 2014-04-14 23:00:00
Topics: Safety and Medical
Countries: New Zealand , Canada

The 63-year-old is now headed back home to Salt Spring Island by airplane. He was plucked from his ailing vessel by a Swedish freighter on Sunday, after the Swedes raced toward him for 12 hours to arrive before the weather turned nasty again in an unpredictable stretch of ocean.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it; I thought for sure I was done,” he told 3 News in Auckland, New Zealand, after the rescue. His 11-metre yacht L’Antillaise is lost, now marked as a navigational hazard on nautical maps.

With round John Lennon-style glasses and thick wisps of white hair, Mr. Munneke is an experienced sailor. But the accounts from his interview with the television stations and rescuers indicate experience wasn’t quite enough.

He left New Zealand on March 26 and was headed home. He had sailed his sloop through rough weather before, but the storm he faced a week later was different. The winds kept getting stronger the rain hitting his small yacht grew harder and the waves were getting higher. Then a crashing wave hit the sailboat and flipped it. Inside, Mr. Munneke was tossed around, suffering a gash over his left eye.

Broken glass and water washed around the boat, wrecking his equipment. The hull was damaged by the storm, allowing a steady flow of water into the vessel. For the next five days he struggled to stay afloat, limping toward the white beaches of the Cook Island of Rarotonga, more than 1,100-kilometres away.

The situation grew worse when the electric pump that was helping keep the boat dry failed. Unable to keep up with the flow of water, Mr. Munneke activated his emergency beacon on Sunday morning.

Dave Wilson was the mission co-ordinator for the New Zealand rescue centre. “There was no question the skipper was in serious danger,” he said in a release from the rescue centre. An New Zealand air force search plane was sent to find the yacht.

Nearly 370 kilometres away from Mr. Munneke, the hulking Fidelio was cruising toward New Zealand. The freighter can carry as many as 8,000 cars. Just before noon, the first warning was sent to the ship. An hour later, First Officer Gustaf Karlsson was on the bridge when the Swedes were asked to find the foundering sloop.

“This is the first time this has happened to me and I’ve been at sea for nine years,” Mr. Karlsson said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

Just after 10:20 p.m. they made radio contact with Mr. Munneke. The first officer was standing on the deck of the Fidelio when they found Mr. Munneke just before midnight. Visibility was limited; it was raining and windy as four-metre swells pounded the yacht. The freighter pulled up alongside Mr. Munneke’s vessel and he was able to climb a pilot ladder lowered to sea level.

“I was the first one to welcome him aboard,” Mr. Karlsson said. “He looked tired and very wet; otherwise he was in a very good condition, both physically and mentally. He was swimming in a lot of adrenalin.”

Known as the Roaring Forties, the stretch of ocean where Mr. Munneke was found has been favoured since the age of sail due to its strong, consistent winds. But those winds make the area prone to sudden and dangerous weather changes.

“I just spoke with the captain about the weather and it’s very different when you reach around south 40 degrees latitude, it changes all the time and it can be quite difficult, it’s bad,” Mr. Karlsson said.

On board the freighter, the crew treated Mr. Munneke’s injuries and offered him a hot shower, food and a cabin. The Canadian was in high spirits when the ship pulled into the Ports of Auckland three days later. He said he was ready to head home and “lick his wound.”

Read full report at The Globe & Mail

Share |
Countries
Albania
Algeria
American Samoa
Angola
Anguilla
Antarctica
Antigua & Barbuda
Argentina
Aruba
Ascension Island
Australia
Azores
BIOT (Chagos)
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Bermuda
Bonaire
Bosnia
Bouvetoya
Brazil
British Virgin Islands
Brunei
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Canada
Canary Islands
Cape Verdes
Cayman Islands
Channel Islands
Chile
China
Christmas Island
Cocos Keeling
Colombia
Comoros
Cook Islands
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cuba
Curacao
Cyprus
Denmark
Djibouti
Dominica
Dominican Republic
East Timor (Timor Leste)
Easter Island
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Eritrea
Estonia
Falkland Islands
Faroe Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
Fiji
Finland
France
French Guiana
French Polynesia
French Subantarctic Territory
Galapagos
Gambia
Georgia
Germany
Gibraltar
Greece
Greenland
Grenada
Guadeloupe
Guam
Guatemala
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana
Haiti
Hawaii
Heard, McDonald & Macquarie Islands
Honduras
Hong Kong
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Ivory Coast
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan
Juan Fernandez Islands
Kenya
Kiribati
Kuwait
Latvia
Lebanon
Libya
Lithuania
Macau
Madagascar
Madeira
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Marion & Prince Edward Island
Marshall Islands
Martinique
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mayotte
Mexico
Monaco
Montenegro
Montserrat
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar (Burma)
Namibia
Nauru
Netherlands
New Caledonia
New Zealand
New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands
Nicaragua
Niue
Norfolk Island
Northern Marianas
Norway
Oman
Palau (Belau)
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Philippines
Pitcairn Island
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Reunion Island
Romania
Russia
Saba
Samoa
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Sint Maarten
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Africa
South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
South Korea
Spain
Spanish Virgin Islands
Sri Lanka
St Barts
St Helena
St Kitts & Nevis
St Lucia
St Martin
St Pierre & Miquelon
St Vincent & the Grenadines
Statia
Subantarctic & Southern Ocean Islands
Sudan
Suriname
Sweden
Syria
Taiwan
Tanzania
Thailand
Tokelau
Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago
Tristan da Cunha
Tunisia
Turkey
Turks & Caicos
Tuvalu
US Virgin Islands
USA
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
Uruguay
Vanuatu
Venezuela
Vietnam
Wallis and Futuna
Yemen
Add/Update Your Business
If you would like your business to be listed, or the details are wrong, please update your business