Jubilee Sailing Trust's tall ship SV Tenacious rescues seven from stricken yacht in Atlantic 12/12/06

The Jubilee Sailing Trust’s tall ship SV Tenacious yesterday rescued seven people from the French sailing yacht Zouk in heavy seas. The Zouk, a 43-foot Sun Odyssey French-registered yacht owned by the Glenans Association – one of France’s biggest sailing schools – had lost its rudder and had been drifting in the middle of the Atlantic for nearly a week.

Tenacious was sailing on a 30-day transatlantic voyage from Gran Canaria to Antigua, when the ship received the distress call from the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre, (MRCC) Fort de France based in Martinique. The MRCC monitors and co-ordinates calls for maritime assistance and rescues.

At around 1530 hours on Saturday, Tenacious made direct contact with Zouk, which had then been drifting for over six days. The 2nd Engineer Steve Garrett and 2nd Mate Steve Higgs using one of the ships inflatable ribs went to lend assistance. They carried with them a mooring warp used in towing vessels and a box of freshly cooked ginger cake for the crew of the Zouk.

Despite the difficult conditions Steve Garrett boarded the yacht and helped the crew to rig a towing bridle. This was no small task as the combination of the force of wind and sea put huge stresses on the line and the yacht.

Three of the crew from the yacht also transferred to Tenacious leaving four, including the yacht’s skipper on board.

Without the rudder the yacht did not respond to the terrible conditions and this put a huge strain on the towing line. During the course of Sunday morning the line snapped and once again the Zouk was drifting.

Despite repeated attempts made by the crew on board Tenacious to tow the French vessel into Antigua, appalling weather conditions meant that Captain Barbara Campbell in consultation with the skipper of the Zouk was forced to abandon any attempt to save the yacht as it could not be towed safely. To prevent the Zouk from becoming a hazard to other shipping it was necessary to scuttle the yacht.

Having transferred the remaining four crewmembers on to Tenacious, the crew sunk the yacht and are now proceeding to Antigua as originally planned.