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Old 08-02-2007, 05:09 AM   #1
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Sydney Morning Herald

August 2, 2007 - 12:34PM

A navy warship is racing to save a lone British sailor whose yacht is in danger of breaking up on a reef north of Lord Howe Island, off the NSW mid-north coast.

The frigate HMAS Ballarat was sent early on Thursday from Jervis Bay, 570 nautical miles (1,050km) away on the NSW south coast, in answer to a distress call at 5pm (AEST) on Wednesday from the stricken yacht, which is taking in water.

The yacht, which has one British man aboard, had run aground on Elizabeth Reef, 100 nautical miles (185km) from Lord Howe Island, said a spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which is coordinating the rescue attempt.

A catamaran had remained close to the yacht overnight and maintained regular radio contact, the spokeswoman said.

Two AMSA search and rescue aircraft were circling the area and a merchant vessel had also been diverted as back-up for the approaching frigate.

The Ballarat was expected to be in position by 4pm for its long-range helicopter to attempt to winch the man to safety and take him back to Lord Howe Island.

Defence spokesman Brigadier Andrew Nikolic said time was of the essence.

"The yacht is taking on water and is in danger of breaking up in heavy seas and strong winds," he said.

Despite the rough conditions, the AMSA spokeswoman remained confident of success.

"We are certainly hoping the yacht doesn't break up before the defence assets get on scene," she said.

"(The sailor) has been in constant radio contact with the vessel that's nearby so we don't anticipate that's going to happen.

"But if it did, we have a good location on where he is and we will get people there as quickly as possible."
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Old 08-02-2007, 05:51 AM   #2
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Extra info:

There is one British man about the yacht, named the "Lamachan".

The sailor's yacht sent a distress signal at 5pm on Wednesday and a navy frigate sailed on Thursday morning from south of Sydney.

The yacht ran aground on Elizabeth Reef, 185 kilometres north of Lord Howe Island, a spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.
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Old 08-02-2007, 09:50 AM   #3
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Good news:

"An Australian Navy helicopter has successfully rescued a lone British yachtsman who was stranded on a reef near Lord Howe Island.

The Sea Hawk helicopter winched the man to safety late this afternoon and he was taken back to the island, located 600 kilometres off the eastern coast of Australia.

He is reportedly uninjured."

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/
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Old 08-02-2007, 12:11 PM   #4
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More detail in later news report:

A LONE British sailor whose long-distance yacht voyage from London ended on a reef off Lord Howe Island has been winched to safety after a tense wait for rescue in heavy seas.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which co-ordinated the rescue, said a Sea Hawk helicopter rescued the 55-year-old sailor shortly after 5pm (AEST) today and flew him to Lord Howe Island, off the New South Wales mid-north coast.

The British yacht, which sailed from London in September last year and last docked at Noumea, sent a distress signal at 5pm yesterday after running aground on Elizabeth Reef, 100 nautical miles (185 km) from Lord Howe Island.

The call for help from the yacht, which was taking in water in heavy seas, prompted the dispatch of the frigate HMAS Ballarat early this morning from Jervis Bay, 570 nautical miles (1050 km) away on the NSW south coast.

A catamaran had remained close to the yacht overnight and maintained regular radio contact, the AMSA spokeswoman said.

Two AMSA search and rescue fixed wing aircraft circled the area today and a merchant vessel had also been diverted as back-up for the approaching frigate.

In the end, the Ballarat was not needed as the Sea Hawk, a long-range helicopter which flew up today from Nowra, was able to find and rescue the stranded sailor.

A second chopper, a Sea King, was on standby on Lord Howe Island as a backup but was not needed.

``It all went off without a hitch and apparently he's safe and well,'' the AMSA spokeswoman said.

The salvage of the stricken yacht remains the responsibility of its owner, she said.

source: http://www.news.com.au/
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Old 08-03-2007, 02:57 AM   #5
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A further update:

This has lessons about both:

* navigation errors and/or inaccurate charts; and

* solo sailing by less experienced sailors.

How sailor took a wrong turn and scuppered his dream trip to the inlaws

by Bernard Lagan in Sydney and Marcus Leroux

A once-in-a-lifetime voyage ended for a lone British yachtsman when he was winched by helicopter from his stricken vessel hundreds of miles off the coast of Australia after it hit submerged coral.

Steve Landles, 55, was fulfilling a boyhood dream when he set out from London for Sydney in September aboard his 40ft (12m) yacht, Lamachan. But on Wednesday evening he struck the treacherous Elizabeth Reef, north of Lord Howe Island far off the eastern Australian coast. The reef has claimed at least 36 ships.

His boat was holed and stuck fast on the reef. He was able to radio a distress call to Australian maritime safety authorities who contacted a catamaran in the area. The catamaran stayed near the reef on Wednesday evening while Mr Landles remained on board his yacht, which was taking on water.

Early on Thursday Mr Landles twice tried to reach the catamaran, once by swimming and again by dinghy. He was beaten back by the seas on his first attempt and tossed from the dinghy on the second. He was able to return to his stricken yacht.

The Royal Australian Navy sent two helicopters on Thursday morning after dispatching two frigates, embarking on a 570 nautical mile (1,050km) mission from their base at Nowra, south of Sydney, across the Tasman Sea to rescue Mr Landles. There were fears that his boat would break up.

Mr Landles, an IT project manager from southwest London, had set sail on his adventure with his daughter Kirsty, who was on a gap year, and her boyfriend Andy Pengelly, a kitchen manager. By the time of the incident his crew had flown back to England from Nouméa.

In a yachting newsletter he wrote of the magnitude of his adventure: "It's an easily stated objective. Sail halfway round the world to Sydney, visit the mother-in-law and then sail back again, adding: "But the achievement needs a massive amount of planning and preparation. To make it harder, whilst I'd sailed dinghies many years ago and occasionally chartered cruisers since, I soon found out a lot had changed and I was close to the bottom of the learning curve."

One of Mr Landles's rescuers was a Sea King flown by a British pilot instructor, Lieutenant Steve Brown, from the Commando Helicopter Force, based at the Yeovilton Royal Naval Air Station, who is on a posting with the Royal Australian Navy.

Lieutenant Brown, speaking from Lord Howe Island, told The Times that Mr Landles had run aground after relying on a marine navigation chart that gave a false position for Elizabeth Reef. "He had two charts, one of which was accurate and the other which wasn't. Unfortunately he was relying on the chart that was wrong. He was very unlucky." Lieutenant Brown said that the British sailor was exhausted. "He is sleeping now. He is very, very tired. He's had a long couple of days."

Mr Landles told his rescuers that he had been heading for the city of Newcastle, north of Sydney when Lamachan hit the reef.

Mr Landles maintained an internet blog of his travels in which he told how his yacht had been invaded by large seabirds, and later, sea lions near the Galápagos islands.

“It feels like I am a chambermaid in Sea Lion Hotel. Sea lions are no longer welcome on this boat,” he wrote.

Moving into the South Pacific Ocean, he wrote: "That Captain Cook certainly got around. There aren't many places in the Pacific that we visited where he hadn't been first."

His blog also records his discovery that his charts did not accurately show at least one reef he encountered - Beveridge Reef, near Tonga.

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/
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Old 08-03-2007, 12:34 PM   #6
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A few more interesting tidbits.

The yachtsman, Steve Landles, knows enough about Australia to be aware that Australians could well be making jokes to you when your boat is stuck on a reef in the middle of the ocean. In this particular case they were not joking when recommending that he swim fast to reduce the chance of shark attack.

British sailor hauled from shark-infested waters after 308-day voyage to Australia

By James Macintyre

Published: 03 August 2007

A British man was airlifted to safety last night after an ambitious sailing trip from London to Australia fell at the last hurdle when his yacht hit a reef off an island in the South Pacific.

Steve Landles, 55, an IT manager from Wimbledon who set sail on 29 September last year, had been nearing the end of his epic voyage when his 12-metre yacht, Lamachan, ran aground on Elizabeth Reef, east of the Australian mainland. He sent a distress signal and then had to wait for help amid shark-infested waters while two search-and-rescue aircraft circled overhead.

Darkness was falling and fears were beginning to grow for the stricken sailor. Earlier, Australian Defence spokesman Brigadier Andrew Nikolic had said at a press conference in Canberra: "The yacht is taking on water and is in danger of breaking up in heavy seas and strong winds."

After Mr Landles became stranded, an Australian catamaran on a fishing expedition passed by, and the Briton tried to get into his yacht's dingy to reach the fishing boat. But the waters were too choppy and any attempt at connection between the two parties - which were only 70 metres apart - failed.

Instead, the crew of the catamaran could only warn Mr Landles by radio that he should be careful swimming in the Pacific seas because sharks were known to be in the area.

But he thought they were joking. Last night, he said: "At one point they were saying to me to be sure to swim towards them with strong, purposeful strokes and not to flap around like a wounded fish. I thought it was the laconic Australian sense of humour. It wasn't until later that I found out that there are sharks - aggressive ones - in those waters."

A member of the catamaran's crew described the scene: "We had gone to Elizabeth Reef to do some fishing and there we were, a hundred miles from nowhere, when we saw this other ship," said skipper Bill Shead. "He was trying to get to us but he kept getting hammered by the surf. He would have got eaten by sharks for sure. He was stressed. He'd used up a lot of energy and was soaking wet and cold. Who wouldn't have had the jitters in that situation?"

But late last night the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which co-ordinated the rescue, said a navy Sea Hawk helicopter pulled Mr Landles from the yacht. A spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said: "The gentleman was winched onto the helicopter and he was taken to Lord Howe island. He was in good condition."

Mr Landles set off on 29 September on what he described as a trip of a lifetime, the first stage of which he was accompanied by his daughter and her boyfriend. They sailed via Portugal, Madeira, the Canary Islands, the Caribbean, Panama, the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia and Tahiti.

From New Caledonia, he was on his own.

Source: http://news.independent.co.uk/
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Old 08-17-2007, 11:36 PM   #7
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Any further news on this story ?
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Old 08-19-2007, 10:58 AM   #8
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A bit more detail and commentary:"I took a wrong turn"

quotes and a phot from the Telegraph here

A Sailworld article on broader lessons:

1. over-trusting the accuracy of charts, and

2. other cruising yachts may not be able to assist much if you get in trouble.

http://www.sail-world.com/index_n.cfm?nid=...=1&DfPage=g

I can't find his main blog, only an early version with just 2 entries.
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