It’s all rescues this week . . . French yachtsman Alain Delord, snatched from the southern ocean after spending three days in a liferaft, has been landed safely ashore in Hobart, Tasmania.
He had the good fortune to be plucked to safety by the Orion, ranked the second-most luxurious expedition cruise ship in the world by the Berlitz Guide. It’s a good job he wasn’t waiting for the most luxurious expedition ship – Silver Explorer was undergoing repairs after itself being hit by a giant wave.
Once safely on board, and after being checked over by ship’s doctor Chris Bulstrode, Delord, 63, relaxed over a dinner of lamb shanks and a glass of red wine before retiring to bed in a luxury suite with a cup of tea.
At a press conference in Hobart, he said he had been given a second chance at life after storm-force winds had snapped the mast from his yacht three months into his attempt to sail single-handed around the world.
“It’s a miracle that amidst the vast ocean, Orion was able to find me,” he said, with the aid of an interpreter. “Thank you Australia, Thank you Orion.”
Orion was the nearest vessel to Delord when the mast snapped off his yacht, and the ship responded to an emergency call from the Australian Maritime Safety Agency (AMSA) by making a 687 nautical mile diversion.
Royal Australian Air Force searcraft had located the yachtsman and dropped flares to guide the ship to him. Cheered on by 91 passengers, the rescue team headed by expedition leader Don McIntyre – himself a former solo round-the-world sailor – launched a Zodiac inflatable and retrieved Delord from his liferaft.
Captain Mike Taylor said high winds and heavy seas had slowed Orion on the third day of its rescue mission and there was only 20 minutes of daylight left when they reached Delord. “Although you’ve got a little bit of twilight you’re really under the gun to effect the rescue while you’ve still got daylight,” he said. ”It’s not the kind of thing you can do in the hours of darkness. My heart was really in my mouth.”
Having missed a visit to MacQuarie Island, Orion arrived earlier than scheduled into Hobart; passengers were given excursions while immigration authorities provided Delord – whose passport was left behind on his yacht – with the paperwork to allow him to fly home.