Solo yachtsman in rough seas near East London assisted by NSRI

 Around the world, solo yachtsman, John Gartiez, 64, of Alaska, US encountered heavy sea conditions and storms on his 40 foot yacht between Durban and East London

 His  partner  Karen Schroede in Munich, Germany, alerted the NSRI East London about Gartiez’s plight  on his yacht Arctic Turn at 8.30 pm last night. She requested NSRI to be alerted to his position in case an emergency developed.

 Geoff McGregor, NSRI station commander, said the Transnet National Ports Authority, MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) and Telkom Maritime Radio Services were also alerted. 

During the night communications were lost with the sailor so as a precaution from first light NSRI arranged for Air Traffic Control to request commercial flight flying in the vicinity of his last known position off the Transkei Coast near Port St Johns, and to to keep a lookout for the yacht.

This morning (30 October) communication with the sailor was restored with regular updates of his position,. Although experiencing a lack of sleep, heavy seas and an approaching storm the sailor was pressing on regardless and did not call an emergency.

 “Based on the conditions and the approaching storm NSRI East London volunteer sea rescue duty crew volunteered to launch the NSRI East London deep-sea rescue craft Lotto Rescuer to rendezvous with the yacht heading towards East London,” McGregor said . “Our  thinking was that  we could  put some fresh crew onto his yacht to give him a break and help him sail through the storm. 

“We rendezvoused with the yacht 60 nautical miles North East of East London in 30 knot gusting winds and 6.5 meter swells. We found a very experienced sailor fully enjoying the thrill of sailing his yacht in the adverse conditions and he gracefully refused any help although welcoming the distraction.

 “As a precautionary measure we escorted the yacht towards East London and by 6 pm, about 20 nautical miles from our base, we departed , leaving the sailor to continue on his voyage. We will monitor his progress and expect him to be in the Port of East London at about 11 pm tonight.”



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