A sad day
Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Wed 26 Sep 2012 08:44
Yesterday morning was my turn as net controller for the SSB radio roll call. I dutifully go up at 07:30 local time (we had finished anchoring at about 01:30) to hear a message from Paul (Rally Control) asking us to get more information on the situation with Ciao. Ciao is a Sweden 45 yacht that joined the rally in Bali. Apparently Srecko from Ciao had alerted rally control of a problem. (Actually he called in a Mayday at 05:30 but I didn't know that at this time.)
I immediately tried to call Ciao on the SSB but instead got Spirit of Alcides saying they could see that Ciao had a problem and that J'Sea was attempting to assist them. Linda on J'Sea then came on and informed us that Ciao had hit a submerged object during the night and had a problem with their rudder. They were originally taking on water but they had managed to stem the leak and J'Sea was going to tow them to Cocos Keeling. They were about 50 miles from Cocos at this point so it seemed doable. It took about half an hour for J'Sea to get a line to Ciao and start towing them in, with Spirit of Alcides and Umineko standing by. Everything seemed to be under control.
About an hour later we got a call from J'Sea to say that Ciao was still taking on water, Srecko and Olga were baling with buckets but Ciao was getting heavy for J'Sea to tow. Ciao was asking if the authorities on Cocos Keeling could provide assistance. I contacted Paul who spoke with the police and informed us that it would take 2 and a half hours to get a launch out to Ciao and that they would only be prepared to take the crew off, and not to attempt to save the boat. We passed this information on to Srecko and Olga who decided to carry on trying to save Ciao. You should understand that they were never in serious danger during this ordeal because there were several ARC boats close by and the sea state was OK for them to cast off in their tender at any time and be picked up by another boat.
J'Sea contacted Royal Leopard, who has a bigger engine, to ask if they could help with towing Ciao. Royal Leopard and Beatoo diverted to assist. We also contacted Zoe over the SSB to ask if they also try and reach Ciao quickly. Zoe was 35 miles from Ciao at the time, but they have a high capacity 12 volt seawater pump that was key in keeping the holed catamaran Ensemble afloat in Suwarrow. Zoe also started motor sailing towards Ciao with an ETA of about three and a half hours.
There was nothing else we could do but wait and hope Srecko and Olga could keep Ciao afloat until the big pump arrived. At 10:45 Charles on Dreamcatcher took over the SSB net while the crew and I went ashore to clear customs and immigration.
Things happened pretty quickly after that. At about 11:15, while we were still onshore, we heard that the situation on Ciao was critical, they were cutting free from J'Sea and going to motor on for as long as possible. We returned to Anastasia and heard that Ciao's bows were going underwater, so Srecko and Olga had abandoned ship and were safe on Spirit of Alcides. Shortly afterwards came the message that Ciao had sunk.
A sad day.