At around 22:30 UT on Friday 18 May, approximately 330NM northeast of Bermuda, the yacht Outer Limits struck a submerged object, believed to be a whale, and susstained damage to the hull causing significant water ingress. Whilst the yacht’s emergency pumps were able to contain the leaks, skipper Joost Gehrels doubted that the boat could safety return to Bermuda and issued a MayDay to request immediate assistance. Using the yacht’s satellite telephone he also contacted RCC Bermuda.
The Netherlands-flagged Hanse 370e was taking part in the ARC Europe rally and on route from Bermuda to Horta, Azores when the incident occurred.
RCC Bermuda contacted vessels in the area and diverted the merchant ship E R Melbourne, and the ARC Europe rally yacht Halo, which was 15nm away to assist. The E R Melbourne, a 36,000 tonne container ship, reached Outer Limits’ position at approximately 00:10UT 19 May, and commenced evacuation of the crew. Within an hour, the 4 crew members of Outer Limits were safety aboard the merchant ship and the yacht Halo was then asked to stand down. Outer Limits was abandoned, at approximate position 34 19N 59 04W.
The German flagged E R Melbourne has now resumed course for Cagliari, Italy. Outer Limits’ skipper Joost Gehrels (Netherlands), speaking via satellite phone said that he and all his crew, Marta Cappiello (Italian), Diane Ferrero (America) and Andrew Siess (American), are safe and well although understandably shaken. They have been able to contact their friends and family ashore and inform them that they are OK.
Rally manager Lyall Burgess, commented on the incident, expressing his thanks to the Master and crew of the E R Melbourne; to RCC Bermuda; and to the double-handed crew of Halo (Mike & Alexandra Bailey) for their professionalism and swift response to the incident.