can we help
+44(0)1983 296060
+1 757-788-8872
tell me moreJoin a rally


What’s Next - What’s Next / Brainstorm 19th Jan

Before the ships bloggers wax lyrical again I would just like to say a few words with regards to the past 24 hours events here in the middle of the Atlantic.

The worst nightmare for any skipper and crew is to realise that the vessel you are on and that is your safe haven in the middle of nowhere is taking on water to a point where you have to consider getting into the life raft. This is especially true in the middle of such a vast wilderness such as an ocean where it is unlikely that there is anyone close by to help. 

Sadly for the crew of “Brainstorm” one of the ARC boats and our neighbour in the marina in Las Palmas, this nightmare became a reality early evening yesterday.

Shortly after dinner last night we received a call from MRCC in the Azores that Brainstorm had catastrophic rudder failure and was taking on water. They were in need of immediate assistance and as we were the closest vessel could we make way to their position as fast as we could. Our crew were clearing the dishes at this time but before I had finished reading out Brainstorms coordinates the crew had already turned our boat around and had began to motor towards them. They were 30 miles behind us and with head winds and against the current this meant that we would not be on station for at least  6 hours. The feeling of helplessness in not being able to get there quicker was overwhelming on board “What's Next”. Lots of coordination with search and rescue, ARC rally control and other boats filled our time. The wonders of technology meant that we were able to communicate directly with Brainstorms crew who were keeping the boat afloat using buckets and fashioning extra bilge pumps from shower pumps. After a couple of hours they communicated that could we please make haste as the water ingress was getting out of control. 

We arrived on station close to midnight and four very ingenious Dutch crew had managed to stem the flow of water for the time being although the damage to the vessels superstructure was precarious at best and could fail completely at any time. After considering all options it was agreed that it would be safer for everyone to effect a rescue and transfer of crew at first light. Although the sea state was light to moderate the swells were still up to 2 meters and it was pitch black. We killed our engine and kept a mile down wind of them standing by in case the situation worsened. In these conditions the boats are not comfortable places to be! The rolling and banging as waves hit you on the beam is exhausting, especially for Brainstorms crew who were still trying to keep their boat afloat as long as they could.

The following  12 hours was definitely a time where you realised how fragile life is and how insignificant we are when at the mercy of mother nature and the vast oceans. Although the communications continued with search and rescue, ARC control and other vessels very little was said on What's Next. Everyone knew what to do and we all hoped that luck would hold out at least until the daylight.

I am pleased to report that early afternoon Brainstorms crew were successfully transferred to the relative safety of What's Next and another ARC boat “Rhapsodie:” who arrived to assist at midday. 

We now have a crew of six instead of four and we treated ourselves to a small beer with dinner tonight with our new companions coincidently as we crossed the half way point in what is turning out to be a challenging adventure. We are still fighting slack winds with low levels of fuel now to help us along but all of that seems insignificant after last nights events.

As we left the scene I felt desperately sad for the Captain and crew of Brainstorm. The planning and emotional investment that goes into a once in a lifetime adventure like this is immense. Looking back at their vessel, full of possessions, dreams and memories, knowing that it will almost certainly sink very soon was gut wrenching.

We had already become friends with the crew of Brainstorm before we left Las Palmas. They were moored directly to one side of us in the marina and Rhapsodie directly to the other. In a rally where around 40 boats now are spread over 2000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean what was the chances of the 3 of us meeting in the middle at about the same time when it really mattered? 

Finally a big thank you to MRCC (search and rescue), ARC rally control and the other vessels that offered help during last night and this morning. The World Cruising Club run a truly  professional event. The human spirit is very much alive and kicking in the world of sailing!!!
Chris Line
Skipper What's Next

Previous | Next