North Atlantic Mayday: Dismasted 230nm southwest of Iceland

A retired teacher and two others were rescued by the Icelandic Coast Guard after a storm rolled their sailboat in near-freezing temperatures near Iceland.

Published 6 years ago, updated 5 years ago


Three Virginia sailors, including a recently retired teacher from Richmond, were plucked from the cold waters of the North Atlantic on Wednesday after their 40-foot sailboat rolled over in stormy seas 200 miles off the coast of Iceland. The men were in good condition and still on board the Icelandic Coast Guard research vessel Thursday as it headed to Iceland.

The three sailors were Morrie Piersol, Wes Jones, and Bobby Forrest, all from the state of Virginia in the USA.

According to an article posted on its website by Iceland Review, a Reykjavik magazine, the men sent out a distress signal at 4:30 a.m. local time Wednesday. The ship’s mast had broken, and it had lost power in deep water well off the southwest coast of Iceland.

The boat, a sloop named “Valiant,” had been buffeted by winds of 50mph and rolled over in 20-foot seas, smashing the mast and rigging and dumping the men in the water. The air temperature was about 40 degrees.

The keel remained intact, and the boat eventually righted itself, though it was flooded. The men started bailing and stripping off and wringing out their soaked clothes, then cutting a foam mattress pad in three pieces and wrapping it around their cores in an attempt to stay warm and avoid hypothermia.

The Valiant left the Fishing Bay Yacht Club in Deltaville on July 1. The sailing itinerary included planned stops in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Greenland and ultimately Iceland, but the Greenland port was iced in, requiring the men to undertake a longer-than-planned trip between St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Reykjavik.

Read more about this story from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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