ARC skipper Nick Lewis from Flying Start aids illegal immigrant rescue 30/11/06

ARC competitor Nick Lewis and his team aboard the Moody 38 Flying Start had an interesting experience yesterday – on day 3 of the ARC – when they randomly came across a small boat carrying 15 suspected illegal immigrants. They spotted the boat yesterday afternoon at a position approximately 400 miles south west of the Canary Islands, and 200 miles off the coast of Africa.

Lewis immediately alerted the World Cruising Club office in Cowes reporting that he had come across a small craft with about 15 people on board whom he suspected were immigrants. After consultation with the MRCC (Marine Rescue & Coordination Centre) in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Flying Start was requested to remain with the craft whilst a ship was sent to help rescue the immigrants.

Lewis headed back a short distance to the position of the small craft relocating it again with the help of the Spanish Air Force, where the yacht remained on station to identify the craft to the ship when it arrived.

The hospital ship, the Esperansa del Mar, arrived on the scene at 0430 today (Thursday, 30 November), and successfully rescued the immigrants from their small craft. It was discovered that of the 34 that had initially been on board, only 15 remained, one of whom had recently died.

With the rescue complete, Flying Start was stood-down by the hospital ship at 0630, and rejoined the ARC at approximately 0830 when they reached the position they had been when asked to standby by the Spanish rescue authorities.

Commenting on the rescue, Nick Lewis, a retired solicitor from Bridgend, in South Wales said: “We did the right thing by the Spanish rescue authorities. It’s been a long hard night and we are now just pleased to have rejoined the ARC and be on our way again towards St Lucia.”