Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My Yacht Sofia. Rolled And Dismasted In The Pacific Twenty Years Ago Today...

This evening at around 8pm twenty years ago, my yacht Sofia, making passage to Tonga with my partner Uschi and I aboard was rolled and dismasted in a Force 12 storm that was to become known as a weatherbomb.
It was then and still is the biggest and most destructive weather event to ever be recorded in that part of the Pacific Ocean.
Winds were recorded at over ninety knots, the sea swell was twelve metres and some waves were one hundred feet high.
Three people died, twelve yachts were lost and twenty one people were rescued.
It was a life changing event for all of us.
To Jon and Maureen Cullen from Kerikeri Radio. To Bill Sommer from the NZ National Safety Coordination Centre. To Commodore Robbins and the crew of the NZ Navy vessel Monowai.
To the ships that came to assist others in distress. Thankyou, you are all heroes.
And to the amazing crews of the RNZAF Kiwi 315, Kiwi 668 and Kiwi 669 who kept our hopes of rescue alive and to Captain Oliver Saint Martin and the crew of the French Naval vessel Jacques Cartier who rescued Uschi and myself, looked after us and took us back to Auckland in a style only the French could manage.
Wherever you are, I send you all my thanks,
my love and the best of wishes.
You were braver than brave...

19 comments:

  1. Todays post is breathtaking and my eyes were tearful when reading your story.
    It's nearly impossible really to imagine this horrifying situation 20 years ago. But it's quite easy to understand your gratitude.
    Thank God you're alive and every day enriches us with your great and wise posts in a thought-provoking manner.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are lucky to be alive. Was that the end of your boating days?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was the beginning of another boating adventure aboard the junk rigged, ten metre, hard chined, shallow draft, plywood live-aboard yacht called Shoestring that I was able to build.
      But that's another story...

      Delete
    2. So - you DID do the liveaboard thing! And not only that, but even after this terrifying experience you actually had the nerve to go back out on the water. That's what I want to do, if I can just get the moolah together for it. Do I guess correctly that you built or acquired Shoestring on a shoestring?

      Delete
  3. Wow, I have trouble picturing 100 foot waves. I was out in the Atlantic in a small craft of 25 feet and got caught in some big waves and bigger swell. Not anything like the ones you describe. You are lucky to have survived. The sea can be mean at times.

    ReplyDelete
  4. A very moving post. What a fine line there is between life and death...Between the story and the end of the story. Good that your story went on...

    ReplyDelete
  5. What an adventure and what a story. I'm so glad you survived and lived to tell the story.

    ReplyDelete
  6. How incredible and terrifying! Obviously indelibly imprinted upon your mind. So amazing that you are here to tell the story, and so glad that you are !

    ReplyDelete
  7. What an adventure!! My fiancé, many years ago, was diagnosed with a terminal disease. He was a physician so it was ironic that he didn't recognize the warning signs until it was too late. He made the choice to spend his last days on his boat, with his dog, & when the end was near, he called his partner to come for them. He died that night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thankyou for sharing that.
      I would like to think I have a similar plan should the opportunity present itself but without a dog or a cellphone. Just a bottle of scotch...

      Delete
  8. I'd guess after that terrifying scenario a bottle of scotch was welcome (or brandy, those French!). I've been scared at sea but never anything close to what you all went through. Words sometimes fail easily.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wasn't it 30 years ago Keith - 1984? My hubby was in that storm, incredible experience. TVNZ did an amazing doco at the time, we have it on video and I have read the book Heart Light by one of the survivors - mind blowing stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was very certainly twenty years ago Soozie. June 4 1994 is not a date I'm likely to forget.
      What yacht was your husband on?
      Heartlight's was an interesting story.
      You might like to read Rescue in the Pacific by Tony Farrington. A very well written and factual account of the event...

      Delete
  10. You lived; the moment, the boat , the story- all live in You

    ReplyDelete
  11. Amazing post and bravery

    ReplyDelete
  12. Can't help thinking that you made a good choice of boat, Colin Archer type - a Westsail?
    Thanks for sharing a remarkable experience

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks BB, yes it was a Colin Archer type double ender. A 'Thistle' design drawn in 1934 by the famous American yacht designer William Atkin. LOA 32ft and one inch. Waterline 27ft 6ins, Draft 5ft. Displacement 9 tonnes, Timber construction.
      The engine, a Perkins 4107.
      She was and is one of the best sea boats ever and I believe still cruises the waters around New Zealand...

      Delete
    2. Hi Keith. Can you please tell me when, where and by whom the Sofia was built? I am interested in recording the boat's history.

      Delete