Community spirit and a death at sea.
Sarah Grace goes to sea
Chris Yerbury and Sophy White
Sun 3 Jun 2007 06:47
One of the things that is most special about this cruising life is the huge sense of goodwill, genuine friendliness and cooperation from fellow sailors. There is a very immediate feeling of community when ever you are among cruisers, however seemingly diverse the individuals may be. Perhaps it is the shared challenges and experiences of the sea, along with the task of keeping a boat up and running. Where ever it comes from, it is very real and readily felt whether in a brief exchange at the dinghy tie up point or on the local radio net that runs in larger anchorages. Advice and help is forthcoming from complete strangers without a second thought, one persons skills are available to all and complete strangers of all nationalities share a precious common bond. Friendships are formed in a trice and are warmly re-established immediately on meeting again,however far apart in time or place that subsequent meeting occurs. If you are on a boat, you are part of the floating village and always welcomed. I shall really miss this when I am no longer living aboard.
This was illustrated today and shown to extend beyond just the cruising community. One of our friends in a yacht 100miles north picked up a call broadcast into the radio ether from a ship. The ship was in need of medical assistance, could anyone out there help? Our friend contacted the ship, told the captain that there was a doctor aboard Sarah Grace and passed on our position that we had exchanged on our radio net a few hours earlier. The first we heard of all this was a foreign sounding voice calling SG on the VHF radio and asking for our position. Iain gave our lat/long and in reply the voice said "I come now to your position", without any explanation. We immediately looked around to see if a ship was visible and approaching on a possible collision course. The ocean was as empty as ever, which left us feeling rather puzzled. Half an hour later the call was repeated and the story of a collapsed crew member emerged. It also emerged that he was not breathing, and had neither a pulse or pupil reactions.
To cut a longer story short,we arranged a rendezvous and before long a large Greek bulk carrier emerged over the horizon. I went aboard and confirmed the death of the chief engineer who had collapsed and died instantly a few hours earlier. The captain was understandably very distressed because the man was his closest friend and he had also now lost a key member of the crew. He was also concerned that he would now be associated with bad luck at sea and told me he was considering his future as a captain. By way of thanks, he offered us victuals of all sorts and we gratefully accepted some diesel so our jerry cans have replenished the tank and both are now full once more. Again I felt aware of a mutual regard and uninhibited desire to help between such different sea farers at this chance meeting hundreds of miles from land.
Yesterday,because of the wind direction, 24 hours on our northbound course actually increased our distance to the Azores. However we have finally made it through to the to the westerlies and although rather light so far, we are at last sailing east to Horta. Hurray!!
1am Sunday 3/6. 33 06N 55 01W