Part three: July to September
A family of four’s dream cruise ended in a dramatic rescue in the South Atlantic, when their yacht was holed by a small iceberg.
Derbyshire couple Carl Lomas, 45, and Tracey Worth were on passage with their teenage daughters, Caitlin and Morgause, to Cape Town from South Georgia, when their 1987-built 55ft Oyster, Hollinsclough (pictured above), struck a ‘growler’, a chunk of floating ice.
At the time they were hove-to in a Force 9 gale with gusts of up to 60 knots, 300 miles north-east of South Georgia. The British warship, HMS Clyde, which was 200 miles south of the yacht, rescued the family 20 hours later.
Mr Lomas said: ‘It was like hitting a brick wall. There was a tremendous noise like glass shattering. You’re certainly not assured of a rescue in the Southern Ocean. It was by the luck of God that we found an English warship within 300 miles of us.’
The RYA issued new guidelines for yachtsmen that downgraded the use of distress flares.
The guidelines ‘highly recommended’ DSC/VHF radios, EPIRBs and Personal Locator Beacons for coastal and offshore use, but only recommended flares when there was no electronic equipment on board or for use in the ‘final mile’ of a rescue.
RYA cruising manager, Stuart Carruthers, said: ‘It is our view that more people are rescued because of electronics than pyrotechnics.
‘There is growing evidence that people are nervous about flares and there are cases of yachtsmen who hate having them on board, so we drew up these guidelines to reassure them of the reliable alternatives.’
Mr Carruthers added that flares were less crucial since the Coastguard stopped maintaining a visual watch. Flares were developed in the days when most boats had no electronic equipment.
The British Marine Federation (BMF) warned that the government’s planned VAT increase to 20% could jeopardise the
marine industry’s recovery.
Chief executive Rob Stevens said:
‘The industry is still in the early stages of recovery following the
financial crisis and anything that increases the cost of sales for
marine businesses could be very damaging.’
But other industry
figures were less concerned about the rise. Claire Horsman, of
Itchenor-based Northshore yachts, said: ‘Most of our customers were
already expecting a VAT-rise in the budget. Our yachts are sold on
quality and performance, so price is not the primary issue.
‘We feel that customers will accept the VAT rise, as it falls in line with the rest of Europe, currently at 19-20 per cent and in some places
higher. This higher European rate has no impact on our sales.’
Yachtsmen caught up in a night-time military exercise in Studland Bay, Dorset received an apology from the MOD, after they were ‘bombed’ by a low-flying RAF plane dropping 18ft assault boats by parachute.
Martin Smith and Marilyn Baxter were anchored in the bay aboard their Najad 400, Moocher, when a Royal Marine Commando came alongside and explained there was going to be a military exercise with a ‘live drop’.
Ms Baxter said: ‘We asked if we should move. We even asked if we would be in any danger, but we were told: “No, it will jut be noisy”.’
About an hour later a plane flew over at a low altitude, dropping six parachutists and two boats, each with two parachutes attached.
‘To our horror, the westerly wind was blowing one of the boats towards us,’ said Ms Baxter. ‘We thought it was going to hit us.’
Barry Burton, an MOD spokesman, said that the military will continue to use Studland Bay for its training as ‘there are very few suitable places in the UK’.