How did a yacht abandoned on the ARC end up foundering 1,200 miles north?


Compromise, the Nicholson 32 abandoned on the ARC last year when her Canadian skipper Jos Brosnan became delusional, has washed up and foundered in the Azores.

Brosnan’s crew asked to be rescued in December 2006 after he stopped taking medication for bi-polar disorder and became irrational and threatening. All three were taken on to the superyacht Mirabella. They did not, however, scuttle the yacht; they furled the sails, left a note on the chart table saying that the souls on board had been rescued, put the washboards in and left.

Compromise was Brosnan’s home, run on a shoestring and in Las Palmas I remember thinking she looked a little down at heel, but because they were about 300 miles north of the Cape Verdes and firmly in the tradewinds belt (the picture shows the last plot of Compromise’s position), I assumed the yacht would probably drift west and end up somewhere in the Caribbean – if she made it at all.

But here’s the strange thing: nearly a year later Compromise has fetched up about 1,200 miles north. Seemingly she foundered on the western end of Faial in the Azores before drifting round and being salvaged 1 mile off the harbour of Horta.

Compromise was one of two ARC yachts abandoned but not scuttled last year. It’s a difficult question and one on which insurance companies sometimes have their own views.

The problem isn’t just the indefinite hazard to other vessels but the likelihood that, if sighted, a derelict yacht will trigger a rescue mission. Simon Rabett, rescue centre manager for Falmouth Coastguard, tells me this happens “about two or three times a year – and we’re only one rescue centre.”

As always, your views and comments are welcome?