When the rudder failed on the yacht Benguela, its crew tried lashing a floorboard to a pole to take its place.
It worked, well enough to steer the 42-foot sail training vessel to within reach of rescue boats from St Helena.
Now the principal of the 2 Oceans Maritime Academy in Cape Town has thanked “all of St Helena” for the kindness shown to the yacht’s seven crew.
Sean Cumming said the Fast 42 vessel had just made its fourth visit to the island in a year and a half, on a voyage to enable student yachtsmen to notch up sea miles.
Its sister yacht, Diel, also visited in March 2014 on a training voyage from Cape Town to Rio and back via Tristan da Cunha.
Sean said: “Benguela suffered rudder failure in the early hours of Monday 29 September, due east of St Helena, while on the return leg to Cape Town.
“The skipper and crew attempted to repair the steering and drifted to a position north-east of the island.
“Around 0730 Universal Time they were able to set up a jury rudder using the spinnaker pole and a floorboard lashed to it.
“This allowed the vessel to make its way slowly towards the island under power until they were due north.
“I then made contact with Sean Burns of the Governor’s office, who was extremely helpful. He then contacted the relevant emergency personnel, who sent vessels out to assist, eventually towing Benguela back Jamestown.”
Trevor “Otto” Thomas, skipper of the fishing vessel MFV Extractor, agreed to accompany the island’s rescue vessel on the operation because of the distance and heavy seas anticipated.
“I would like to commend all involved in the assistance of Benguela,” said Sean Cumming. “You can imagine how stressful this has been for 2 Oceans, the parents of the crew, and family.
“We were updated on the progress through the office of the Governor and are extremely grateful to all who assisted.
“St Helena is a wonderful island to visit and we are so grateful that the rescue crew are so professional and friendly. The hospitality extended to the crew has been amazing. We will continue to visit the island as part of our yachtmaster programme.
“Thank you, all of St Helena.”