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Cruising Yacht Kersti sinks on route to Cartagena

By Sue Richards last modified Dec 03, 2009 03:37 PM

Published: 2009-12-03 15:37:32
Countries: Colombia

As reported in Blue Water Sailing

On Friday Nov 27th at approximately 0400 hrs, the S/V Kersti, a 50' British flagged vessel with owners Jeff and Ruth Morris aboard, issued a mayday approximately 50 miles WSW of Cartagena during a voyage from the Eastern Lemons in the San Blas Islands to Cartagena.

They were rescued and taken aboard by another Cartagena bound vessel, S/V Jupiter Smile. They proceeded to Isla Baru (Cholon) where they were assisted by S/V Valentina and others in the anchorage.

Fortunately, nobody was lost or injured during the incident. Also fortunately, there were other boats within VHF range when Kersti began taking on water and issued a "Pan Pan", and then responded when Jeff issued a "Mayday" after it became evident the boat was sinking despite all efforts to save it. Both their EPIRB and life raft both performed exactly as they should in such an emergency.

The owner does not know the source of the water infiltration. It was very rough that night, with seas of 8-10 feet or more, and he could have hit something without knowing it. He knew there was a problem when he noticed the bow seemed to be heavy and he investigated to find the forward bilge flooded. His attempts to pump using both electric and manual pumps, as well as bailing, could not keep up with the ingress of water.

On Saturday, Nov 28th, Jeff and Ruth Morris arrived in Cartagena aboard the S/V Glide. They were able to follow up contact with the Colombian Guardia Costa, and begin the notifications necessary following such an event. They were able to find temporary lodging in a hotel-apartment near the old city.

As unfortunate as this incident is, it serves as a reminder to all cruisers the absolute importance of having reliable communications at sea: VHF, SSB, Sat Phone, and EPIRB, all of which were used in this situation. Also, the captain immediately put out a "Pan Pan" when he initially discovered the water, then changed it to a "Mayday" once he realized he was not able to control the water flooding the boat. He activated his EPIRB and deployed his life raft when he was certain the boat was going down. They were rescued from the liferaft a short time later by one of the vessels who responded to his mayday.

From: Glenn Tuttle, M/V Tothill

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