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World ARC Pacific fleet respond to medical incident

Following an alert of a medical incident on board a non-World ARC sailing boat, sailing alongside the World ARC Pacific fleet between Galapagos and Marquesas islands, the World ARC crews responded to provide much needed assistance.

The crew of the stricken yacht were sailing double-handed when one of the pair suffered a medical emergency. The causes remain unknown and although the casualty was conscious and alert, they were unable to contribute to running the boat. The crew contacted JRCC Papeete which is responsible for organising assistance in this sea area. JRCC tasked the commercial vessel Navíos Mars, which was en route east to west to divert and provide assistance, and at that stage the intention was to remove the casualty from the yacht to the container vessel.

Whilst waiting for this, the double-handed crew had some difficult topics to talk through. Could the yacht be sailing single-handed if the injured person was removed? Should both crew leave the yacht to look after one another? Was it better for the casualty to stay onboard the yacht?

During this time, the yacht's shore support, a team of friends and family members, swung into action to try and coordinate a secondary response. It’s always important not to get in the way of the maritime response professionals doing their job, but there are a few tasks that may fall outside of their remit, which can be lead by others or coordinated to assist the JRCC. World ARC Rally Control received an alert from one of the participants of the World ARC 2023-24 fleet, who knew of the boat and introduced Rally Control to the yacht's shore support. This resulted in a fleet message being sent to the World ARC Pacific fleet to ask if any yacht could spare a crew member or be willing to sail as a buddy-boat with the stricken yacht.

There were several World ARC Pacific yachts who answered the call but those best positioned and capable to help were the catamarans Zissou and Liberty. This gave the stricken crew additional options and so the casualty was transferred to the commercial ship and taken at best speed to Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas. Zissou, one of the assisting catamarans with 4 people onboard, rendezvous with the yacht and transferred half their crew, sailing in company to the Marquesas. The pair were then joined by the catamaran Liberty and also supported by Escapade of London.

Currently, the casualty is being very well looked after by the crew onboard Navíos Mars, and Zissou, Liberty and the sailing yacht are making good progress to the Marquesas.

Christian, who led the yachts shore support team commented afterwards ‘I continue to be in touch with some of the ARC sailors and am so grateful for you, them, and the entire sailing community…. I really and truly believe that Cait’s improving condition and Michael’s well being is because of the message you sent out and the response. I hate to think what decision we would have had to make if sv Zissou had not been en route to offer assistance when Cait was due to board Navíos Mars.

Zissou and Liberty currently have an estimated arrival in Hiva Oa of 5 May.

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