Rescuers have been praised after venturing far out in heavy seas to bring a yacht crew to the safety of St Helena.
The ten-hour operation began when a call for assistance was received from the yacht Benguela, 80 miles north of the island with rudder problems.
The rescue boat Lima put to sea from Jamestown with the island’s offshore fishing vessel, MFV Extractor, soon after the alarm was raised at about 9.30am on Monday, 29 September 2014.
“Given the sea conditions and the likely action required, support was sought from the skipper of the Extractor,” said a government statement.
“The yacht had limited steering but was able to head, at slow speed, towards St Helena.
“When it was 25 to 30 miles from the island the rudder failed completely. The sea rescue boat had made good progress and arrived on the scene to ensure the safety of the seven persons on board.”
The two rescue boats worked together under skippers Craig Scipio and Trevor Thomas to tow the yacht back to St Helena, arriving in James Bay at about 8pm.
“All crews of the Lima, Extractor and Benguela were uninjured but tired after a long rescue deployment,” said the statement.
Benguela is one of two Fast 42 yachts used for sail training by the 2 Oceans Maritime Academy in Cape Town. It was on a “mileage voyage” to St Helena, giving trainees the chance to build up ocean experience.
The MFV Extractor was only brought to Jamestown in April 2014 after being purchased by a specially created consortium to allow the island to exploit the rich fishing grounds around its offshore sea mounts.
St Helena’s Chief of Police, Trevor Botting, said: “This was a challenging rescue in heavy seas but the sea rescue team, working with the skipper and crew of the Extractor, did a fantastic job in ensuring the safety of the Benguela and its crew.
“I am grateful to the skipper of the Extractor for the support given to the sea rescue crew but not surprised at the level of support given when needed.
“Working together, they provided a professional and timely response to those in need in the waters surrounding St Helena.”
Governor Mark Capes praised both crews. “Thanks to their courage, professionalism and well honed seafaring skills, the operation ended happily with the safe return of all concerned,” he said.