One crew saved but three still missing
World ARC yacht Tillymint, an Oyster 82 taking part in World Cruising Club’s round the world rally, has been involved in the dramatic rescue of a stranded Caribbean fisherman whilst on route to Panama.
The small open fishing vessel, the Vegas from St.Lucia, had been drifting for 20 days without a serviceable engine. In the early hours of Saturday 26 January (local time), at position 13?28N 67?23W approximately 80 nautical miles off the island of Aruba, the on-watch crew of Tillymint heard faint cries for help from close by, though they could not see another vessel. In the time it took the crew to drop sails, turn the yacht around and get back upwind against 25 knots to the incident position, the crew of the Vegas had started a small fire to attract attention. The fishermen were in a desperate situation, since despite passing close to other vessels they had been unable to raise a distress call.
Unfortunately, their signal fire got out of control and before Tillymint reached their position, the crew had to abandon the vessel and jump into the sea to escape the fire. One crewmember was rescued and taken onboard Tillymint. However, in the darkness and weather conditions prevailing at the time, they were unable to locate the remaining three fishermen.
Under the direction of MRCC Curacao, Tillymint conducted a search of the area around the wreckage, joined at first light by other World ARC yachts – Southern Princess, Grey Lady, Harmonie, BlueFlyer and Strega, and a Coastguard SAR aircraft. The Netherlands Coastguard ship, the Jaguar was also sent to the area to co-ordinate the search.
The survivor, Sherwin John, from St.Lucia has been evacuated onto the Jaguar. Despite the best efforts of the search vessels, MRCC Curacao called off the search at 18:30 local time on the 26 January, having failed to locate the three missing crew.
All World ARC yachts have now resumed their course for Panama.