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Tag: yachting

Sailing for St Helena with a floorboard for a rudder

The yacht Benguela is the same type as a former Governor's Cup Yacht Race winner
The yacht Benguela is the same type as a former Governor’s Cup Yacht Race winner. Picture: 2 Oceans Maritime Academy

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.”

Island crews hailed for ten-hour rescue operation
2 Ocean Maritime Academy
2 Ocean’s Fast 42 yachts

Island crews hailed for ten-hour rescue operation

Fishing vessel Extractor joined the rescue operation. Picture: Bruce Salt
Fishing vessel Extractor joined the rescue operation. Picture: Bruce Salt

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.

Rescue boat Lima. Picture: Bruce Salt
Rescue boat Lima. Picture: Bruce Salt

“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.

extractor 450 by BruceSaltClick to see a gallery of Bruce Salt’s Extractor pictures

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.

Sailing for St Helena with a floorboard for a rudder

Ocean slog ends with a man overboard

Malcolm Russell aboard Ambre, ready to cast off
Malcolm Russell aboard Ambre, ready to cast off

Yachtsman Malcolm Russell reached St Helena exhausted but unharmed after a gruelling 1,600-mile voyage – then fell overboard in James Bay.

He couldn’t climb up out of the water, and his brother Rusty no longer had the strength to haul him in.

Now Malcolm has told how the pair were taken in by “the angel of the island” when they finally got to dry land, because they were in such a bad way.

Malcolm fell when he tried to launch the dinghy
Malcolm fell when he tried to launch the dinghy

The two “trade wind gypsies” were recreating a voyage Malcolm and his wife undertook 40 years earlier.

They left South Africa on 1 May 2014 in the yacht Ambre and soon found themselves wallowing in dangerous and uncomfortable conditions off uninhabited Dassen Island.

Then Neil developed a throat problem, so they put into Saldhana Bay in South Africa, where they took on board “the worst tasting water”, before turning towards St Helena.

“We went straight into the heaviest seas we had seen so far,” says Malcolm. “They were all over the place. We got banged around and hammered.”

During the storm a pulley failed and jammed the steering, meaning a difficult repair job.

Rusty was below deck when Malcolm went overboard
Rusty was below deck when Malcolm went overboard

Then continuous cloud meant the solar-powered engine battery ran down, and the auto helm stopped working.

“Now we were stuck with our biggest fear, that we would have to helm 24/7,” says Malcolm, describing the voyage on the YouTube video website. “Rusty would helm for four hours I would helm for four hours, and we would switch and switch about.

“It meant our sleep pattern got down to two and a half hours. And rusty had to call me if there was anything that needed my attention – ships close by, or something going wrong with the sails.

“I felt it.

“We finally arrived at St Helena. We lost the steering altogether and the auto helm blew up. The last three days of helming was in no wind.

“We were absolutely shattered. I had lost a huge amount of weight; so had rusty. We battled our way in, picked up a mooring and I thought our troubles were over.”

The two yachtsmen were on continuous four-hour watches
The two yachtsmen were on continuous four-hour watches

But they were denied the sleep they craved when customs and immigration asked them to go ashore.

“So these two shattered tired old guys decided to get the dinghy over,” says Malcolm. “Neil was working below decks while I went to get the dinghy and I fell overboard.

“You can’t believe what a shock it was.

“I gave rusty a yell. There was no way he could get me out, no way I could pull myself up. I was absolutely exhausted. Finally I said ‘Get a piece of rope, put a knot in it, and at least I’ve got a foothold.’

“After a lot of sweating and trying we managed to get me aboard.”

They got ashore instead on the ferry service and cleared customs.

“That’s when we decided to go and see the angel of the island.”

Grateful: Malcolm relaxes at The Consulate
Grateful: Malcolm relaxes at The Consulate

When they turned up at the Consulate Hotel to find old friend Hazel Wilmot, she was appalled.

“She took one look at these two old wrecks and she said, ‘No way: you’re not going back to the boat, you are staying here at the hotel as our guests. So we have a huge debt to Hazel.

“We had a really rough ride. But we are here now and loving St Helena once again.”

Part of the purpose of their voyage is to observe the state of the oceans and compare it with what Malcolm saw on his first voyage, 40 years ago, in a yacht he built for himself “in the middle of Africa with no idea how to sail”. He chronicled the trip in a book he has never finished, because “the voyage isn’t over”.

He says they saw lots of bird life this time, but only one flying fish. “That’s very scary because flying fish are prolific around here. We saw one dolphin, only one. That’s very different from last time – we had lots of sea life all around us.”

Next stop for the two mariners: the West Indies, “hopefully in time to beat the hurricane season”.

With their luck…

Watch the videos
Start of the adventure
Cape Town to St Helena

Gallery – from YouTube
Click on any thumbnail to see images from the Trade Wind Gypsies videos

Saint sailor gets set to resume round-the-world trip


James Herne is getting ready to continue his quest to become the first St Helenian to sail round the world. He and his wife Hanna and three children set out from the UK on their 38-foot Bavaria yacht, Carpe Diem. After several months visiting James’s homeland, they have had the yacht lifted out of the water to be made ready for the next stage of their adventure. Click on the thumbnails to see pictures by BRUCE SALT.

World-class moorings make world-wide news

A story about the new “world-class” moorings installed below Ladder Hill Fort has been picked up by the yachting press in several countries – including Australia.

They were commissioned after the loss of the vintage yacht Queequeg, which broke up on rocks after an earlier set of moorings failed.

Project manager Hedge Shuter skippered one of the first yachts to use the new facility when he and his island crew moored up aboard Patches at the end of the 2012 Governor’s Cup yacht race.

He praised contractors Graham Sim, Keith Yon and Craig Yon.

Graham said: “It wasn’t an easy mooring field to put in place. Although we did a lot of planning, we still had to change some things as we went along.”

Hedge said: “St Helena now has a yacht mooring field of world-class quality. Word will spread around the yachting community and it is hoped that this will lead to more and more visitors arriving by sea.”

Read the full press release here.

Yacht wreck owner gets £200,000 pay-out
GALLERY: The wreck of the Queequeg

Curry sauce and choice language: island crew’s race adventure

Christmas Day at sea for the crew of Patches. Picture: Hedge Shuter
Christmas Day at sea for the crew of Patches. Picture: Marine Maven (T&T) Ltd

St Helena’s crew in the 2012 Governor’s Cup yacht race sailed home from South Africa on a diet of curry sauce – and blocked the lavatory twice. Skipper CHRIS “HEDGE” SHUTER reports.

Cheers: skipper Hedge
Cheers: skipper Hedge

The race was a great adventure for the crew, who worked very hard together to overcome the challenges of a long ocean voyage.

The crew did amazingly well, considering that they were novices and we had only two training sessions in False Bay before the race.

We crossed the start line with them not knowing how to fly a spinnaker and I taught them to sail en route.

Even so, we managed to finish fourth overall and retain the Muira Trophy for yacht Patches.

There were many amusing incidents, including the crew blocking the heads [toilet] twice, much to their chagrin and causing the skipper to use some choice language as he dismantled it again.

For some reason the RMS St Helena food suppliers delivered us 19 cucumbers, 3kg of garlic, 30 tins of curry sauce, no meat and no water!  This lead to an interesting diet for two weeks at sea.

The welcome home was a very humbling experience. Several boats came out to greet us and there was a great reception crowd waiting at the steps. The skipper and crew were overwhelmed and are very grateful to those who made the effort.

The crew took great pride in representing the island and did their very best to be good ambassadors for St Helena.

SEE ALSO: Skipper praises St Helena crew’s ‘brilliant achievement’

Governor’s Cup winner says ‘never again’ (on that yacht)

The winning skipper in the 2012 Governor’s Cup yacht race has hailed it an “incredible” experience – that he had no wish to repeat.

At least, not on such a small yacht.

The 29-foot Reaction won the overall Governor’s Cup – not open to multihull yachts – as the first monohull to reach James Bay, a few minutes inside 12 days.

Skipper Tinus Groenewald told SHBC reporter Sherilee Phillips: “It’s like a dream come true – fantastic feeling.

“This was our third attempt and at last we’ve got it. We worked very hard on virtually the smallest boat to make it. It’s a great great great feeling.”

Asked whether he would compete again, he said: “Not on the same boat. It’s too hard. I think we’ve achieved what we wanted to do but next time I come past here I’ll come cruising again.

“I think it’s an incredible package because you get the racing part, you get the week on the island, which is absolutely fantastic – it must be the most honest, friendliest place on Earth – and then you get the trip back on the RMS St Helena, which is just as great.”

SEE ALSO: Governor’s Cup stories

Skipper praises St Helena crew’s ‘brilliant achievement’

Hedge Shuter has praised Saint contractors who installed "world class" moorings in time for the arrival of the Governor's Cup race fleet. Picture by Mark Stevenson
Hedge Shuter has praised Saint contractors who installed “world class” moorings in time for the arrival of the Governor’s Cup race fleet. Picture by Mark Stevenson

St Helena’s crew in the Governor’s Cup yacht race has been praised by skipper Chris “Hedge” Shuter after a 15-day voyage from Simon’s Town in South Africa.

He described it as “a brilliant achievement by a novice crew”.

Four boats carried officials and wellwishers out to Banks Battery to escort Sandy Francis, Ross Towers, James McCabe and Kathryn Jackson for the final approach to James Bay.

Their yacht, Patches, crossed the finish line as light was fading, claiming fourth place on handicap in the racing monohull class.

A cheer went up from 70 people at the landing steps when Hedge and his crew stepped ashore.

In an interview with the St Helena Broadcasting (Guarantee) Corporation, Sandy’s mother, Valerie, described how she cried with worry nearly every day while she was at sea, “but when I saw her today out there on the boat, I felt so proud.”

Sandy told reporter Sharon Henry it had been a “wonderful” experience, with “one or two scary moments”. And she said Hedge had been a wonderful skipper.

  • Hedge has also praised Graham Sim, Keith Yon and Craig Yon for their work laying new yacht moorings below Ladder Hill Fort in time for the arrival of the Governor’s Cup fleet. He said: “St Helena now has world class yacht moorings, something which is great news for the yachting world, and the island can be rightly proud of this achievement.”

PREVIOUS STORY: Governor’s Cup: Hedge and co claim fourth place

LINK: SHBC report and pictures on the arrival of the St Helena crew aboard Patches

Governor’s Cup: Hedge and co claim fourth place

The St Helena Yacht Club crew aboard Patches has finished in fourth place on handicap in the racing monohull class in the Governor’s Cup yacht race.

It crossed the line at 18.30 hours on 6 January 2013, finishing in a time of 15 days, eight and a half hours – and three seconds.

The results table showed the yacht JML Rotary Scout, with Saint scout Tyler Brady aboard, claimed victory in the rally monohull class by just over half an hour.

(Note: in the results table, elapsed time indicates the actual time taken to reach St Helena; corrected time shows the official time, once handicapping is taken into account).

PREVIOUS STORY: Governor’s Cup: last boat is the fastest

St Helena crew ‘home by Twelfth Night’

Reaction has claimed the 2012 Governor's Cup. Picture: Jan Theron
Reaction has claimed the 2012 Governor’s Cup. Picture: Jan Theron

Hedge Shuter and his crew aboard the Governor’s Cup yacht Patches are expected to reach St Helena by tea time on 6 January 2013 – just in time for the traditional end of Christmas on Twelfth Night.

Hedge and team mates Ross Towers, James McCabe and Sandi Francis have been at sea longer than expected, thanks to light winds that slowed down the 19-strong fleet.

According to the race positions at 0900 on 5 January, they looked set to finish at 18.00 – an hour ahead of chasing yacht TicoTico and four hours behind Maggie.

The Patches crew teamed up in South Africa.
The Patches crew teamed up in South Africa.

Fellow St Helena competitor Tyler Brady has found himself among the class winners aboard JML Rotary Scout, after a loss of wind frustrated Swedish challengers in Kuheli within sight of the island.

Kuheli reported being ten miles from the island at 09.00 on Saturday morning (5 January), with a good chance of crossing the finish line by 11.22 in order to beat the scouts team on handicap. The wind dropped in the final three hours, giving JML Rotary Scout a narrow victory.

Tyler was one of four scouts on the yacht – the others all from South Africa. He had little sailing experience before heading for Cape Town in time for to take part in a qualifying voyage of 200 nautical miles.

Co-skipper Stephen Jennings said Tyler would be welcome aboard in the future. He told SHBC reporter Damian O’Bey: “Tyler surprised us a lot.

Team Reaction celebrate reaching St Helena. Picture: SHBC
Team Reaction celebrate reaching St Helena. Picture: SHBC

“He came to us with hardly any experience, us thinking this might be a liability. As soon as he jumped on the yacht he was wide eyes, and he immediately got to work.

“He did tend to sleep a lot, but when he was helping us he learned quite quickly.

“Whenever we were pulling down a spinnaker, whenever we needed a bit of foredeck work, he would be chucking on his harness, tightening up, clipping himself in and trying to get in with the crew. Eventually he was on his own at the front, pulling in spinnakers.

“I was happy to have him as crew I’m quite happy to say he can be part of the crew whenever he wants.”

Johnny Clingham’s St Helena Community website reports that Tyler was not the only Saint novice in the race:

Sandi Francis is very new to sailing, he writes, unlike James McCabe – back in St Helena on a gap year – who has enjoyed boating all his life.

Compromise, winner in the multihull class. Picture: SHBC
Compromise, winner in the multihull class. Picture: SHBC

Ross Towers, who served as first mate, took time off from his job with St Helena National Trust to take part in the race.

Hedge Shuter, serving as a sergeant with the St Helena police, is a qualified Ocean Yacht Master who’d been a leading figure in yachting in a previous posting in the Caribbean.

The overall Governor’s Cup 2012 winner has been named as Reaction, which finished the race in 11 days, 23 hours and 43 minutes – just fast enough to beat Indaba on handicap.

Thinus Groenewald said the win resolved “unfinished business” from the previous race.

“Last time, when we were flying towards St Helena, our rudder failed and we had to pull into Saldanha Bay to fit a new one. We were convinced we could have won that one had we not had gear failure.

“Therefore we are absolutely delighted with this result. Once we found the breeze we enjoyed a fabulous sail all the way to the island.”

The first yachts home in the race, Banjo and Sandpiper 2, actually finished second and third in the rally multihull class behind Compromise, the winner on handicap.

PREVIOUS STORY: Tyler and friends re-take class lead as yachts dash for home