On the theme of shipwrecks, and coincidence, the story I'm working on now is about the loss of a magnificent yacht in which luck and coincidence played major parts.
|Headstone for a dead ship ... All that remains of the RMS Athens that brave Captain David Smith believed he could save 152 years ago. A South-easterly storm claimed his and his crew's lives scarcely yards from safety at Green Point, Cape Town. Many thanks to Clare Lindeque and Learn to dive today for the image.|
We sailed one of the emptiest oceans of the world. The voyage was going well. We were about half way across, in an area where the least shipping is to be found.
The greatest risk
When you run a yacht short-handed, the greatest risk to safety comes from shipping that isn't maintaining a proper watch. For safety's sake, we were keeping to the loneliest part.
Coincidence, however, had a ship pass through this area, perhaps that day, possibly a month or more earlier. As so often happens with container ships, one or maybe more fell overboard.
We knew nothing of this accident, of course, and in the normal course of events, as the expression goes, we wouldn't have needed to know.
Battle to save the yacht
However, coincidence had us pass over the exact spot where the container floated, and coincidence ensured that it was at night, so there was no possible chance of seeing it.
We battled to save the yacht, but the gash in her side down by the keel must have been considerable. Coincidence ensured that we could not reach it to plug it any way.
|Belittled ... After the rescue, the raft rests at the foot of a mountain of containers on the good ship Nordlight.|
The yacht filled with water and Beth, as I am calling her, and I climbed into the liferaft for perhaps the very worst eight days that either of us would experience. Soon coincidence ensured sharks began to congregate round the raft.
The book I am working on, and - hooray! - am very close to completing, tells the story of that horrendous time.
Coincidence, incidentally, came to the rescue. Another ship sailed into that abandoned region, and not just any ship, but a container ship.
Brilliant Stepnik and Raja
Second officer Stepnik Slawomir spotted my flares, and Captain Raja Maitra brought that huge ship, Nordlight, right up to the raft in the middle of the night. Brilliant fellows, Stepnik and Raja, heroes both.
Elaine Bunting, writing for Yachting World, reports that an estimated 10,000 shipping containers fall from ships every year.
The website, singularityhub.com , reported a few years ago, 'Right now, as you read this, there are five or six million shipping containers on enormous cargo ships sailing across the world's oceans. And about every hour, on average, one is falling overboard never to be seen again.'
A surprise dramatic extra by coincidence came at the end of the rescue. The yacht's owner refused to honour the delivery deal, nor to contribute a penny to the drama. Was this coincidence shaping Fate again? However, for people contemplating taking up yacht delivery work, let me reassure you that it was the first and only time an owner behaved in that way.
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