Saturday, June 15, 2013

Norwegian Sailors Rescued After Dismasting Near Azores

A Norwegian couple expressed their gratitude after being rescued after their yacht was dismasted in heavy seas while Crossing from the Azores to the Hebrides with a final destination of Norway. 

 Irish naval vessle Le Aoife tows Alice II

"We are happy to be ashore," said Erik Ostberg once safe in the harbor.  "We were very worried when the mast came down."

Ostberg and his wife, Gretta, were on a dream cruise around the Caribbean.  They had been cruising the gentle waters of the Caribbean for 13 months.  They were on their way back to their home town of Haugesund in Norway when they encountered "raging seas". 

 Haugesund Norway

The couple were sailing their wooden yacht, Alice II, into the teeth of heavy winds and seas when the bowsprit was ripped away.  Then the mast fell, taking with it the Norwegian couple's best chance for communication.  Without their VHF radio the elderly couple were not even able to call for help.

Rescue Crew and Erik and Gretta Ostberg

The couple finally spotted the French trawler the "Bikaine".  Flares were used to attract attention.  After what must have seemed like an eternity, the Irish navy came to the rescue, towing the damaged sailboat to port.  Two crewmembers from the Le Aoife boarded the Alice II while the Ostberg couple recuperated on the Le Aoife.  The vessel was comanded by Lt. Cdr. Ericka Downing.  

Cmd. Downing

Le Aoife is an offshore patrol vessel specifically modified for stability.  The ship played a major role in locating the flight recorded of a downed Air-India flight which crashed off of the South Irisih coast in 1985.

Last month the French yacht, Grain de Soleil was sunk during heavy weather in the Atlantic.  Another yacht, the Lady Domina, of unknown registry, disappeared under odd circumstances around May 3, 2013.  The reported intention of the crew was to cross the Atlantic from St. Martin to the Azores.  Neither yacht nor their crews have been found.

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