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British cruising sailors rescued after yacht sinks in NE Atlantic

By Sue Richards last modified Jun 19, 2010 08:50 PM

Published: 2010-06-19 20:50:54
Countries: Azores , United Kingdom

As reported on, Friday 11 June 2010.

Four British sailors had an unexpected ride to Spain when the Moody 376 they were sailing back to Britain after a 12 year cruising sojourn in the Caribbean lost steering and began to sink in the Atlantic Ocean.

The combined efforts of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Falmouth, the United States Coast Guard, and the excellent Amver system resulted in the two sailing couples being rescued from their sinking boat Octagon, 600 miles off the north-west coast of Spain this week.

They were Mike and Barbara Arnold from Devon and David and Angela Johnson, from the Midlands.

MRCC Falmouth, using the online surface picture request form, asked for assistance in locating Amver participants near the location of the sailing yacht Octagon.

According to Captain Zaw Aung, of the MTM Princess, they were notified by British rescue authorities of the location of the sinking Octagon. On June 1, 2009, the MTM Princess, a Marshall Island flagged tanker, had enrolled in the voluntary Amver system, which is a register of ships available for rescues when needed.

The on scene weather conditions prevented the MTM Princess from safely approaching the Octagon on the first rescue attempt. According to Captain Aung the winds were in excess of 30 knots, visability was 7 miles, and the sea state was rough.

On the second rescue attempt the MTM Princess was able to tie up the Octagon and rescue the four sailors, all of whom are in good health. Captain Aung's crew is looking after the foursome and they will disembark at the MTM Princess's next port call, Santander, Spain.

The Arnolds and their friends had been sailing from the Azores to Britain when they were hit by gale force winds. They hove-to to wait out the storm, but the yacht then began taking on water. As the forecast was for continued gales, they decided to put out a May Day. The MTM Princess was just eleven miles away when alerted through the Amver system, and diverted to the rescue.

The ship is now heading for its next port of Santander, where they will off-load their unexpected passengers. The lives are saved but the Octagon lost to the Atlantic Ocean.

by Lisa Mylchreest