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Flares used in Down Under Rally yacht crew rescue

Pacfic Dawn Lifeboat

Flares have been used in the dramatic rescue of a rally yacht.

Liberty III was taking part in the long-distance Down Under Rally, in the Go East event from Australia to New Caledonia and the 2019 NC2V Rally from New Caledonia to Vanuatu.

It was returning home from New Caledonia when disaster struck.

Skipper Chris Doran says, “Just before dawn, both motors shuddered and stopped at the same time. We were doing about 8.5 knots, we started taking on water and the pumps could not keep up, including the manual ones,” reports the DownUnderRally.com website.

It ran over a 50-metre piece of ship's rope in the dark and the torque of the motors tore an A-frame out holding the shafts.

After two hours, the crew prepared to abandon ship and use the life raft, as there were concerns the stricken vessel could roll over and trap someone or entangle the life raft.

Chris attributed survival to skills he learnt during a preparation course and emergency procedures workshop and encourages others to take similar steps.

“We used our main EPIRB but reserved our personal ones in case we were going to be in the raft for a while, as at the time of entering the raft the closest help was at least 12 hours or more away,” he says.

“We had two fully charged VHF which we used once the rescue ship was in range. We also used our flares to assist them with a visual once they were in radio range.

Virginia Craig from Port of Call Yacht Services in Vanuatu was instrumental in the rescue, as were the Vanuatu authorities.

P&O Cruises Australia and the crew of Pacific Dawn responded to the distress call and carried out the rescue.

“On behalf of all of us who venture beyond the horizon in small vessels we thank the company and the crew of the Dawn from the bottom of our hearts,” says Chris Doran.

Oct 09, 2019