An abandoned yacht adrift for six weeks

Web developer Nick Bowles, who sails an Albin Vega, Fairwinds from Oban, Scotland spotted this derelict 100 miles south of Madeira, and posted it on our website forum

Here is his report: ‘There was a small sail hanging over the bow, the stern fittings looked a bit mangled and it was pretty obvious that she had been rolled and lost her mast. The washboards were out and the hatch open, but no sign of anyone on board. We circled round as close as practical – there was still a three metre swell running (which as usual is not apparent in the photograph). We sounded the foghorn a few times to rouse anyone who might be on board, then phoned Falmouth MRCC on the Satphone. We also phoned Quinta de Lorde marina, our point of departure, and asked the manageress to get in touch with the Madeiran authorities as we had been unable to reach the number given in the pilot. Tryng to put a crew member on board was a last option in those seas, only to be considered if it was a recent disaster and there might be crew on board.

‘The yacht was the Hercules, SSR41232. Falmouth phoned us back to let us know that she had been successfully abandoned by her crew after the dismasting six weeks previously. I phoned Katya back and she told us that the Portuguese authorities had confirmed the yacht as abandoned and that she was ours if we wanted her. It was so tempting . . . but we could see no way to board her safely in the prevailing swell conditions without risking serious damage to Fairwinds, so reluctantly we put aside any thoughts of salvage and left the eerie vessel to continue drifting. The fact that she was still afloat after six weeks with the washboards out was remarkable, but somewhat worrying – a close encounter at night would not be good. Altogether a remarkable and spooky oceanic encounter.’

If the crew of the yacht who were rescued see this please call Yachting Monthly Features Editor Dick Durham on 0207 261 6580.