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Yacht dismasted by one ship, saved by another

By Sue Richards last modified Oct 29, 2009 08:07 PM

Published: 2009-10-29 20:07:10
Countries: USA

As posted on Sail-World Cruising: Thu 22 Oct 2009

A Swiss Canadian boat builder and his French Canadian shipmate, who had never been to sea before, were rescued one week ago off the coast of North Carolina after a collision with a tanker which didn't stop. Their dismasted yacht, floundering in nine-foot waves, was sighted by another cargo ship when they were onto their last flare.

Monnerat Cedric, 31, and Josiane Guillemette, 25, were sailing south from Cape May to St Martin's in the Caribbean. The Star Ismene, loaded with 21,500 tons of cargo of coco beans, was travelling north from Singapore to Camden, at the end of a 33 day voyage.

Had the storm swirling around Cape Hatteras that night not been blowing 35 knots, the Star Ismene would have stayed its course and Yuson and his duty mate, Roland Poricallan, would have missed the distress signal. But Yuson ordered a course change to beat the storm and came within visual distance of the 34-foot, hand-made, blue-hulled sail boat that was foundering in a shipping lane.

The Star Ismene was about 80 miles offshore when Captain Olivo Yuson spotted the pinpoint of light through a telescope. He immediately slowed the Norwegian-flagged 198 metre ship and manoeuvred the ship through the nine-foot waves towards the light.

"Rescue is more important than keeping a schedule. We save lives first," said Yuson, who suspected a "shipwreck" and then supervised the rescue.

Guillemette fell overboard trying to reach a rope ladder along the side of the ship and was nearly crushed between the hulking cargo vessel and the pleasure craft. "She held on tight. If not, it could have been a tragedy," said the captain.

After Cedric climbed aboard carrying nothing but a backpack, he was instructed to cut his boat loose.

Captain Yuson, 50, credited his 20-member Filipino crew with getting the couple safely aboard. He was eager to share a sea story with a happy ending. "They were grateful. They called us their angel. We were not aware of other ships in the area, so it's difficult to say what would have happened if we did not arrive," said Yuson, a mariner for 28 years.