For sailors “down under” they have long been considered one of the biggest risks in deep-sea sailing: The collision with a sunbathing sunfish was now a “Sydney Hobart” yacht fatal.
How quickly sailors or even entire crews on the high seas can get into critical situations, became clear again last weekend. Not least because two spectacular and ultimately happy accidents were almost medialized.
On the one hand, Alex Gough, Crewmember of the Volvo Ocean Race Team “Scallywag”, fell overboard at a modest 18 knots wind speed during a sail change. The bailout went well, if not exactly exemplary and only a few minutes after the MOB Gough was dripping wet again on board. Life jacket? Lifeline? False indication
Another disaster occurred “down under”, about 150 km east of Finder’s Island, an Australian island at the eastern end of the Bass Road between Tasmania and the Australian mainland.
The yacht “Hollywood Boulevard” was on its way back from Hobart to New South Wales, having won a ninth place overall in the Sydney Hobart Race.
On board were six experienced offshore regatta sailors, including veterans such as Michael Spies (with 40 “Hobarts” on the salt hump) and James Wilmot, 1984 Sailing Olympics and 15-time “Hobart” participants. But even concentrated experience does not protect against “Murphy’s Law”: The yacht collided with an unknown object (unidentified flooding object – UFO), was badly damaged and immediately took up tons of water.
The whole in a very stubborn lake with wind forces up to 45 knots. “Just a few minutes after the collision, we saw no other option than to send an emergency call over EPIRB. It was clear the yacht would sink, “Michael Spies later said.
Two “Air Ambulance” helicopters, based on the Australian mainland, were deployed after receiving the emergency call. However, they had to refuel before the direct rescue operation again on Flinders Island, as in the strong wind with high fuel consumption was expected.
The six crew members were recovered from the unusually cold water by heli-winds. Rescue workers later spoke of one of their “most difficult rescue missions,” as the gusts in Bass Street were unusually heavy and spinning. “We felt like on the roller coaster,” said one of the rescuers on record.
The helicopters flew to different rescue stations, each with three heavily submerged yachtsmen on board. The yacht has been abandoned, but it is not yet clear whether it actually sank or continued, half-submerged, drifting in the bass road and posing a potential threat to other boats and yachts.
Speaking of danger from UFO: For Michael Spies, the collision opponent was by no means “unknown”: He is certain that he recognized a moonfish just below the water surface after the collision. The bony fish, which weigh up to 2.5 tonnes and are often three meters long, have always been feared by Sydney Hobart racers.
Although the loners prefer to travel in the deep sea, in the truest sense of the word they are often just “under the surface”. Quite so, so after dark they wanted to enjoy a few rays of sunshine deep down (in English, by the way, the sunfish is called Sunfish).
Alone during the Sydney Hobart races of recent years, it has been proven that dozens of collisions with lunar fishes have become known, which sometimes resulted in severe damage to the yachts. From torn-off rudders to heavy hull damage everything was there. The Supermaxi “Wild Oats XI” recorded at the 2005 race demonstrably three collisions with moonfish.
For Australian and New Zealand sailors such “encounters” have long since become normal. Their concern is currently mainly the increased occurrence of whales, which – apparently due to climate change – now stay longer during their migrations in the waters around Australia and increasingly collide with yachts.
The moonfish or “Mola Mola” is one of the most fascinating creatures of our seas. Although it prefers warm waters, it has also been seen before Scandinavia and the northern Atlantic. It can be found in almost all the seas of our blue planet and covers some long hiking trails over the years.
French, Spanish and British offshore sailors report from sightings not far from their shores, and many marine biologists assume that some of the UFO accidents reported in recent years have not taken place with containers and whales as collision opponents (which are more likely to be “after the collision). identify “), but with lunar fish sinking rapidly after” touch “or collision and are difficult to recognize.
How close we come to lunar fishes, shows the spectacular video (above): It was taken off the Portuguese coast.
Source: Segel Reporter