A French yachtsman who spent three days adrift in a liferaft in the Southern Ocean has been rescued by the cruise ship Orion.
Alain Delord was attempting a solo round-the-world voyage when his mast broke during a storm on Friday. He abandoned the vessel 500 nautical miles from Tasmania and activated his emergency beacon.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) was able to drop food, water and a survival suit, but the location was too remote for a rescue helicopter.
The Orion, returning from a cruise to Antarctica with 100 passengers and 80 crew on board, made a 50-hour diversion to rendezvous with the 63-year-old sailor, who was reported to be uninjured.
AMSA spokeswoman Jo Meehan said Delord was well-equipped with safety gear but was battling severe conditions. “We had a couple of difficulties getting information from him because he doesn’t speak English.”
She added that the Orion was the closest vessel and was able to reach Delord quicker than sending a rescue ship from Hobart. “We are very grateful to the master and crew of the Orion.The master has reported that the sailor was recovered safely and without injury. He is currently receiving medical attention and early indications are that he is healthy.”
Expedition leaders Don and Margie McIntyre found time to write an enthralling account of the rescue on Orion’s Facebook page – from which it is clear that the wide open seas of the southern ocean did nothing to assist the procedure.
“Visibility was low by the time we arrived. Raft sighted after the rescue Hercules dropped smoke flares lighting the way. All teams were positioned and waiting, so the captain put the ship in position and gave me the OK to open the side gate.
“I was surprised at how close we were to the water. Surprised again as I noticed a rather tall wall of water coming towards us!. It flooded in with quite a force and I was worried about Admer being washed out of the side gate space. It came nearly up to my waist as we rolled and flooded below. We shut the side door fast, then the Captain repositioned and gave the ok to open again.
“When we did I was amazed to see the raft just 20 metres from us, sitting in calm water in the lee of the ship with Alain waving!!
“The raft was drifting to the bow as the ship was being pushed by the 30 ktno winds. The Zodiac ripped past, they grabbed him and pulled Alain into the Zodiac, then Steve the driver quickly brought the bow of the Zodiac to the side gate, all the while water lapping at the entrance.”
After Delord was hauled on board, he was taken to the shop’s hospital – itself beginning to flood – where he was checked over by the doctor, and Captain Mike Taylor was able to write: “I am happy to advise that Mr. DeLord was recovered safely and without injury to crew or passengers.”
►Two people whose motor boat had broken down were rescued by Disney Dream last week. The vessel was dead in the water and had sent out a distress signal which was received by the cruise ship. The incident took place in the Bahamas as the ship was returning to Port Canaveral, Florida.