A collapsed mast threw an unexpected obstacle in the path of Tim Ainsworth Anstey’s passage from Gotland to mainland Sweden while sailing with friends

Lessons learned

From the moment the mast had broken until we were home totalled a nine-and-a-half hour journey under engine across a frisky Baltic.

By 0500 the following day we were berthed at our intended destination, rolling into our bunks for some sleep.

Thomas, the owner, slept little, however, nagged by questions about how he’d dealt with the situation.

No one had been injured, but what if they had been? Were they right to dump the rig? And what on earth were the insurance company going to say?

Regarding the last question, in Sweden, at least, the insurers took the claim, no question.

To save the rig would have entailed more risk to the crew, and in any prioritisation, the safety of the crew rates first.

In relation to the other questions, having come through the experience our advice would be:

  1. If something like this happens, take time, understand the situation, and make a plan before acting.
  2. Work methodically and think about safety ahead of anything else. Work out how each person can contribute most effectively. Listen to each other.
  3. A radio is only as good as its aerial location. A hand-held VHF radio is fine, but ensure you have all the traditional equipment on board for an emergency – distress flares, a sharp knife, a decent tool kit, and an emergency VHF antenna.
  4. Make sure you understand how the rigging connections are formed. An electric angle grinder helps if you don’t want to spend time unscrewing rigging in a nasty sea. A decent hacksaw would also have been useful for cutting loose.

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  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Making a plan
  3. 3. Lessons learned
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