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Old 05-12-2007, 10:35 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 3,067

Thanks to ARRL for the following info.


Amateur Radio played a critical role May 4 and 5 in rescuing two people from

a foundering sailboat that had been en route to Colombia. Members of the

Maritime Mobile Service Net (MMSN) and Intercontinental Net on 14.300 MHz

were involved in getting the man and woman aboard the 35-foot s/v Sailabout

to safety after they ran into trouble some 700 nautical miles southwest of

the Galapagos Islands in the South Pacific.

The couple, identified as Gunnar Hansen and Grethe Haraldsen, both Norwegian

nationals and neither an amateur licensee, put out a Mayday call on the

Intercon/MMSN 14.300 MHz frequency the morning of May 4 after Sailabout

sustained damage to its bow -- possibly as a result of losing a forestay,

which helps to keep the mast upright -- and started taking on water. Thanks

to its efficient pumps, the sailboat remained afloat.

The main concern was for the mast, which supported the antenna for the

vessel's HF radio. Fortunately, it remained standing. The conversation on

the MMSN reportedly was widely monitored by others in the sailing and

cruising communities. The Sailabout had only recently been equipped with an

HF SSB transceiver.

According to an account Assistant MMSN Manager Tom Job, VE3II, posted on the

net's Web site < http://www.mmsn.org/events/sailabout.html>, handling the

incident involved multiple stations and relays to contend with problematic

propagation. Sonny Sides, N5OTB, on s/v Valentina, and Doug Reinthal, W7DUG,

relayed the Sailabout's Mayday on 14.300 MHz to Intercon Net Control Station

Wes Mullenax, KI0A, in Texas. Because of poor propagation, however, KI0A had

rough copy on the vessel's signal, so he turned the frequency over to

Fletcher Henderson, KA4BPR, in Alabama. Another report credits Ernie Polack,

6Y5RP, in Jamaica with intercepting the Mayday and assisting via

intermittent radio contacts and relays during the first few hours of the

event to get information to the Coast Guard. Compounding the urgency of the

situation were six to eight-foot seas and winds of 16 to 18 knots.

Amateur Radio relays alerted the US Coast Guard at Alameda, California, to

the Sailabout's predicament. At the Coast Guard's request, relayed via ham

radio, Hansen set off the vessel's Emergency Position Indicating Radio

Beacon (EPIR. Job says Henderson -- assisted by several other stations --

passed critical information to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard contacted

and attempted to divert two vessels to the Sailabout's assistance, although

only one, m/v Belnor -- a Norwegian freighter -- eventually reached the

distressed vessel.

Another boat, s/v Damarri, reported some 50 miles distant, learned of the

situation. MMSN says Sailabout was able to get under way and changed its

course toward Damarri, which was sailing into the weather in an effort to

rendezvous with Sailabout. Once on scene, the Damarri's crew kept watch

through the night from a safe distance to avoid collision in the rough seas

but did not attempt to take Hansen and Haraldsen aboard. At the time, the

distressed vessel was contending with 14-foot seas and 25-knot winds. When

outside radio contact essentially became impossible, the MMSN secured for

the night.

The m/v Belnor arrived the next morning and took the couple aboard, while

Damarri's crew confirmed the rescue via radio. The couple was reported to be

in good health and spirits but had to abandon their vessel. The Belnor was

believed headed for Panama.

Throughout the ordeal, various Amateur Radio stations -- some of which

simply stood by if needed -- made themselves available to update the Coast

Guard, which never had direct contact with Sailabout.

SOURCES: MMSN/Intercon Net; Jack Richards, W4QVA; SailboatOwners.com,

Aftenposten, S/V Sailabout Web site - ARRL
MMNETSEA is offline   Reply With Quote

pacific, rescue

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