Yachting Monthly mourns the loss of contributor Carly du Preez, ocean cruiser and beloved wife of Pete Hill

In memory of Carly du Preez

Carly du Preez was lost to the sea on Friday 19 June 2015. YM readers will remember Carly’s very authoritative pilotage features from previous issues. What they won’t know is what a genuine pleasure it was to deal with Carly as a contributor. Our condolences go out to Pete and to Carly’s family and many friends.

Here is a message from Pete:

News Carly du Preez

Pete and Carly sailing Oryx in Guaraqueçaba, Brasil. Credit: Jill Dickin Schinas

‘I am very sorry to have to tell you that on Friday 19th June Carly was lost at sea.

‘We set sail from Durban on the Thursday towards Madagascar and by Friday morning we were about 50 miles NE of Durban. After breakfast together I turned in at 8 o’clock to catch up on my sleep and woke again at 10 o’clock. The sailor’s worst nightmare, Carly was no longer on board.

‘The wind was blowing westerly at 10 to 12 knots with a moderate sea on a clear sunny day and Oryx was sailing at about 5.5 knots under the self-steering. I dropped the sails and tried an all ships mayday on the VHF, but with no replies and no ships in sight. We were 6.5 miles off the coast and no mobile phone reception. The Navionics tablet app had been running our course so I decided to run back along our track under engine to try and find her. I searched until I arrived back at our pre 0800 position and then went inshore to call for help by telephone.

‘I contacted the NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) who started to organise an air and sea search. I went back out and started a zig-zag search back along our track. A couple of hours later three helicopters arrived and started a search pattern and shortly afterwards two NSRI rescue boats arrived from Durban. I later found out that there was also a light aircraft searching at a higher altitude. At last light the search was called off for the night and I went inshore to anchor for the night. The next morning I went back out to the track and continued the search heading SW and was shortly joined by the two NSRI boats. They had to return to Durban at noon because of low fuel while I continued the search until the sun set, when I sailed back to Durban.

‘The NSRI coordinated the search using unprecedented resources in a very efficient manner, but we failed to find Carly.

‘The only small consolation is that in the last few weeks Carly has spent a lot of time with her daughter Irene and more recently with her son Dylan, who lives in Durban, and especially, much time with her delightful three year-old granddaughter Hannah.

‘We will be holding a memorial service for Carly this Saturday at the Royal Natal Yacht Club.’