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#167668 - 02/23/09 06:32 PM British Couple Saved After 40 Days Stranded At Sea
Glock-A-Roo Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 1076
Story link has some pics.

British Couple Saved After 40 Days Stranded At Sea

Monday , February 23, 2009

A British couple was rescued from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean by an Italian tanker after spending 40 days lost at sea.

Stuart Armstrong, 51, and his partner Andrea Davison, 48, are heading back to Britain on board the supertanker Indian Point.

Although unhurt, they were tired, exhausted and grateful to be returning home after their six-week ordeal in which they "stared death in the face."

The drama began on Jan. 9, six days after the couple left the Cape Verde Islands off the West Coast of Africa on board their yacht Sara.

They were headed for Antigua where they intended to anchor until April.

But, midway through the 2,550-mile journey disaster struck and the rudder on the yacht jammed to starboard. Attempts to fix it were useless.

At this stage the couple, who live on the yacht in Majorca, were in the middle of the Atlantic, 1,200 miles from Antigua, five days sailing time away and out of range for any rescue attempt.

"In effect we were sailing round and round in circles as the rudder was stuck all the way over," Armstrong said, speaking from the Indian Point. "We tried to counteract this by putting droves over the side to try and help point the boat towards land but we didn't really have any great success."

"At first we were not too bothered as we had a good supply of dry provisions, the usual things you have on a boat - pasta, kidney beans, biscuits, rice and soya. There was also plenty of water to keep us going, the radio was still working and we had power so there was no need to be too worried."

He continued, "I have crossed the Atlantic seven times and this was Andrea's fourth so we are pretty experienced and for the first few days it was a challenge and a bit of an adventure."

"We alerted the coastguards in Britain and America and we also let our families know. I spent a good few days trying to fix the rudder as well but I just didn't have any luck."

Their first problem was around 10 days or so later when the alternator broke which meant they had no power.

"All that we had was a small solar panel which gave us enough to fire up the satellite phone but we had to ration it," he said. "The loss of the alternator also meant that we could not use the desalination unit which turns sea water into drinking water so we also had to start rationing that as well."

The American Coast Guard monitored their position but because of their remote location a rescue attempt was impossible and the couple simply carried on drifting with the current pushing them slowly towards the Caribbean.

During their weeks at sea the couple's yacht was battered by storms but they managed to escape unscathed. However, as they neared the Bermuda triangle after more than a month at sea conditions began to worsen.

The reduced electrical power meant that Armstrong could only talk to his daughter once or twice a week and it was the same for Davison and her two children.

"At first they were OK with our situation because they know Stuart is a good sailor but I think as time moved on they started to get more concerned and so did I," said Davison. "We kept getting hit by storms but we managed to get out of them with no real problems. But I knew we were riding our luck and we wouldn't be able to go on for much longer."


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#167670 - 02/23/09 07:04 PM Re: British Couple Saved After 40 Days Stranded At Sea [Re: Glock-A-Roo]
MDinana Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2186
Loc: Bluegrass
I saw this earlier. I have to wonder, NO ONE was close by in 40 days to swing by and tow them or rescue them? That's interesting.

Smart planning on their part though, in terms of packing and redundancy.

Edit: I also have to wonder, after 40 days at sea, how they didn't manage to get the rudder off? I mean, you probably could CHEW through it in that time.


Edited by MDinana (02/23/09 09:13 PM)

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#167672 - 02/23/09 07:57 PM Re: British Couple Saved After 40 Days Stranded At Sea [Re: MDinana]
frediver Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/17/04
Posts: 213
Loc: N.Cal.
I must agree.
After 10 days or so I can not believe that at least a Mil. Training exercise could have been conducted in the area.

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#167683 - 02/23/09 09:12 PM Re: British Couple Saved After 40 Days Stranded At Sea [Re: frediver]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
Too bad that AAA card is useless at sea.

Good thing they were used to living in such close quarters. For me that alone would be a survival challenge after a couple weeks.

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#167684 - 02/23/09 09:59 PM Re: British Couple Saved After 40 Days Stranded At Sea [Re: MDinana]
Dan_McI Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 844
Loc: NYC
Originally Posted By: MDinana
Edit: I also have to wonder, after 40 days at sea, how they didn't manage to get the rudder off? I mean, you probably could CHEW through it in that time.


There are two risks in trying to do that: 1. you might lose all ability to steer; and 2. removing the rudder would possibly require the removal of a through hull fitting, and, once that is removed, keeping the boat from taking on water and sinking might be difficult.

Someone who was a really skilled sailor might be able to steer a boat with no rudder. Sheeting in a head or mail sail and slacking the other, can get a boat to change direction. But it's no easy. In this case, with a rudder jammed hard over, the boat is going to want to constantly turn in one direction, circles, and balancing that out will be tough.

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#167687 - 02/23/09 10:28 PM Re: British Couple Saved After 40 Days Stranded At Sea [Re: MDinana]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Another article indicated the reason why no great effort was expended to rescue them: "No other vessel had responded because of the couple’s remote location and also because, according to shipping officials, many captains are wary of distress calls due to piracy fears." Daily Mail article

Sue

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#167713 - 02/24/09 01:39 AM Re: British Couple Saved After 40 Days Stranded At Sea [Re: Susan]
MDinana Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2186
Loc: Bluegrass
Originally Posted By: Susan
Another article indicated the reason why no great effort was expended to rescue them: "No other vessel had responded because of the couple’s remote location and also because, according to shipping officials, many captains are wary of distress calls due to piracy fears." Daily Mail article

Sue


Watch out! There's a crazy pirate captain making his boat go in circles!

(not making fun of you Sue, just laughing at the absurdity of avoiding contact for 40 days due to those fears)

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#167720 - 02/24/09 02:29 AM Re: British Couple Saved After 40 Days Stranded At Sea [Re: Glock-A-Roo]
LED Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
Interesting story. I have the feeling that a celebrity, someone with political connections, or enough money could have easily found a solution to getting rescued. Then again, maybe they'll get a book/movie deal and the whole thing will have been worth it.

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#167725 - 02/24/09 04:11 AM Re: British Couple Saved After 40 Days Stranded At Sea [Re: LED]
digimark Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 70
Loc: Chesapeake Beach, MD
I read another article about their ordeal, and they had specifically requested early on that they not be rescued, as they had sufficient water and dry goods to let the boat drift towards the Caribbean. It was only after they made it close to Bermuda and were alerted to incoming storms that they felt it was getting dangerous. All in all they seem to have handled it well and didn't lose their heads.

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#167830 - 02/24/09 10:48 PM Re: British Couple Saved After 40 Days Stranded At Sea [Re: Susan]
ki4buc Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 710
Loc: Augusta, GA
How far was this from the two subs that collided? Maybe they were responding to assist...

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