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Cook Islands - Skipper and dog survive yacht sinking

By Sue Richards last modified Oct 14, 2009 02:26 PM

Published: 2009-10-14 14:26:48
Countries: Cook Islands , French Polynesia , New Zealand

A Canadian sailor and his dog are safe back on Rarotonga after a rescue spanning three days, during which they were adrift in a dinghy. Sylvain Caron, 48 and his fox terrier, Eddie were picked up by the Island's patrol vessel 450 kilometres north east of the capital island. Caron was sailing single handed from Tahiti to New Zealand when his yacht sunk.

Caron had been sailing to New Zealand to do repairs on his 40-foot ketch "Inherit the Wind." On Saturday night (3 October) the sea started to become quite rough ahead of a storm and there was too much water for the bilge pump to handle.

Grabbing a few items, and Eddie, he tied himself and the dog on to an open dingy leaving the yacht to sink.

On Sunday morning he tried to make a distress call on the radio but the equipment was too wet as the dinghy took in water. He then activated his EPIRB. “It was brand new when I bought it in 2004 and never used it,” he said. “I was just hoping it was working.”

The signal was picked up by the French Polynesia patrol service in Tahiti who then sent the French naval Guardian aircraft to look for him. The plane spotted him on Sunday afternoon.

Tahiti search and rescue services then contacted police commissioner Maara Tetava when Caron was entering into Cook Islands waters. After seeing a photo taken by the Guardian of the sailor in a open air dinghy, Tetava made the decision to send a patrol vessel.

The patrol vessel (Te Kukupa) from Rarotonga picked up Caron and his dog around 1.48pm on Monday 5 October approx. 450 kilometres north-east of Rarotonga.

Te Kukupa’s skipper Inspector Tepaki Baxter said it was a successful mission with a happy ending. “When we approached him (Caron), he gave us a wave and said he was glad to see us,” Baxter said. “He said just seeing the plane and us made his day and if he had to spend another night on the water, it would have been a different story.”

Our thanks to Nebojsa Stanojevic for bringing this news to our attention.