Mark Matthews is back in the ARC in the yacht he had to abandon in the Atlantic in 2005


Here’s another ARC yacht I was really pleased to see back again. Caliso, a Sweden Yachts 42, was sailed in the ARC in 2005 by owner Mark Matthews and was abandoned several days west of the Cape Verdes when he saw a crack running right round the bilge.

“We could see the crack opening up and flexing open and closed,” he says, “The crew all slept on deck that night and radioed in to Falmouth Coastguard every hour.”

Matthews and his crew decided to abandon – “one of the hardest decisions of my life” – and were lifted by cargo net on to a 198,000GRT tanker headed for Philadelphia. Caliso was left with the engine running, lights on and a tracking device activated. The insurance company arranged for her to be salvaged by a tug several days later and she was taken to the Cape Verdes, where she lay there for five months, being stripped of gear, before getting shipped back to Cherbourg.

When the yacht arrived back in France and was lifted off the ship, the keel began to come away. “The surveyor put his hand on the keel and it moved,” says Mark.

It appears that the boat may have grounded severely when the pontoon it was moored to came adrift in Mallorca in 2003 – another long story. In any case, Caliso was repaired at Desty Marine in Hamble, has had her hull strengthened and more stringers added and is stronger than ever.

So now Mark Matthews is back with three of the original ARC crew and, like David Hitchcock in Toutazimut , says that he is not thinking about what happened before, or anything that could go wrong; he is just looking forward to the crossing.