How the Carbon Neutral Expedition yacht crew rescue by oil tanker ended up worse than 95 transatlantic flights


Did you read the one about the Carbon Neutral Expedition that had to be rescued by an oil tanker?

Ben Stoddart, Richard Spink and Raoul Surcouf were rescued last Friday when their Island Packet 38 Fleur was rolled 440 miles west of Co Mayo in Ireland while on passage from the UK to Greenland, where they were planning a return ski traverse of the ice cap.

Mark Thomas from Falmouth Coastguard tells me that the crew first reported they had been knocked down at 0500 on 1st May and after further capsizes Stoddart decided he wanted to abandon the boat.

Falmouth MRCC asked the nearest vessel to go to their aid. That happened to be Overseas Yellowstone, a 250m LOA, 113,000 ton oil tanker en route from Antwerp to Portland, Maine.

They diverted some 55 miles to the yacht’s position to lift off the crew at 2023GMT. Conditions were then easing but reported by the master of Overseas Yellowstone as SW Force 9.

Anyway, the irony of the rescue is that the diversion alone would have emitted somewhere around 57,000kg of CO2, working on the shipping industry’s calculations of 9.25kg per ton per nautical mile for a supertanker. That’s the equivalent of 95 people each taking a transatlantic flight.

Asked if the crew had scuttled the boat, the Coastguard said no, they didn’t think so. If that’s the case, there’s another hazard to navigation, a big lump of oil-based glassfibre drifting around the North Atlantic. Tsk.

All in all the least polluting and most carbon efficient thing they could have done was stay at home. I hope some enterprising Irish fisherman salvages the boat – or should I say recycles it for cash?