A couple of weeks ago a young couple walked into Beacon Marine, Ventura Harbor’s Chandlery. Three days previously they had left Goleta, California in a kayak and were heading down the coast to San Diego. They were sunburned and their arms were getting a bit tired. Considering the area’s afternoon breeze, they thought a small sail would aid in getting them south faster and more easily.
John Chille was working that day and, being a pocket cruiser specialist, he took on the job of building a sail. Money and time were both an issue for the couple but within two hours John had them on their way. Scrap lumber, a tarp, a couple of grommets, duct tape, and some line became a sail. When completed, it had a handle for easy carrying and it was reefable. Just a bit more of what we call "Beacon Magic" — it happens all the time.
Exactly one year after leaving Southern California aboard his Los Angeles-based Salt Peter, singlehander Peter Rudiger has lost his sailboat to Komakame Reef, which is three miles to the southeast of the southernmost landmass of New Caledonia, about 40 miles from Noumea. While Rudiger is physically fine, he’s potentially in big financial trouble with the government.
In an email sent to cruising friends, Rudiger explained that he had had a rough 700-mile trip from Fiji, arriving at the southern tip of New Caledonia on June 2. It was late afternoon, so he had to decide whether to enter the fringing reef and work his way through additional reefs at night to get to Noumea, or wait outside the reef for daylight. He opted to heave-to offshore and wait for daylight, which would seem to be the prudent thing to do.
Conditions were not ideal. The wind was blowing in the mid- to high 20s, and except for distant marker lights and occasional passing vessels, he saw nothing. After a difficult five-day sail, during which time he uncharacteristically puked a number of times, Rudiger said it was "inevitable" that he would try to take a few short naps between monitoring the chart plotter for his position.
"All seemed well until 3 a.m. on Tuesday, when suddenly there was a very loud, abrasive, crunching sound that shuddered the hull, and suddenly my boat was leaning terribly to port," he wrote. "I knew immediately what had happened."
Realizing there was no way he could get off the reef, in part because the rudder wouldn’t move at all, Rudiger put out a call for help. Authorities said help was on the way. Fortunately, Salt Peter‘s hull kept the water out until shortly before he was rescued.
It turned out that a private French yacht, the Kirie Feeling 48.6 Mariposa, owned by a 30-year-old Frenchman named Jerome, his wife Agathe, and Azae, their 15-month old child, rescued Rudiger at 8:30 a.m, long before authorities showed up. "Jerome’s good nature, and that of his wife, meant they insisted on taking me in and giving me a ‘home’, clothes literally off their backs, meals, and the vee-berth in their very nice boat."
Rudiger’s problem now is that his boat is still on Komakame Reef, which is a nature reserve that’s off-limits to everyone. The New Caledonian version of the EPA has told him in no uncertain terms that it’s his financial responsibility to remove his boat and all toxic substances from the area, and he’ll not be allowed to leave the country until it’s done. Local cruisers are chipping in to help, but it’s likely that their contributions will not be enough.
With a government that is extremely environmentally conscious, New Caledonia recently established the largest marine park in the world called the Natural Park of the Coral Sea. It spans more than 320 million acres — twice the size of Texas.
An American couple was rescued approximately seven miles offshore from Key Largo last Friday evening after having fallen off their 30-ft fishing boat Fishhawk while it was traveling at high speed. Only because a flock of sea birds swarmed above them, Sean McGovern, 50, and Mellisa Morris, 52, were spotted by local fishermen after having trod water for some 14 hours.
"We originally thought they were fish," said one of the four fishermen, Broward County Sheriff’s Detective James White. "We got up close, and once we realized that they were in trouble, we brought them on board."
McGovern and Morris, who were not wearing life jackets, were mildly hypothermic, had been suffering from cramps, and had been stung by jellyfish. They are expected to make full recoveries. Amazingly enough, the boat ended up Saturday afternoon on the beach near a Fort Lauderdale resort, more than 60 miles from Key Largo.
Meanwhile, closer to home, four rowers participating in the Great Pacific Race from Monterey, CA to Honolulu, HI were also rescued Friday when their rowboat began taking on water at about 9 p.m.
“From our conversations with the members of Team Pacific Rowers we understand that Britannia 4 had been gradually taking on more and more water and that despite the crews’ attempt to stem the ingress, the water level became insurmountable and an evacuation was deemed necessary," says Race Director Chris Martin.
"The weather conditions on scene were windy with choppy seas: wind at around 23 – 31 knots with waves of 15-20 feet. Britannia 4 has a number of 406MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) on board, one of which was activated to allow an accurate position update."
A US Coast Guard helicopter arrived on scene at 1:30 a.m. Saturday and hoisted the rowers to safety. Their rowboat was lost. The video below shows the rescue via the Coast Guard’s helicopter.