The ship was at anchor off Tarrafal, San Nicolas with 2 anchors out and the Deck Officers undertaking the anchor watches due to the very gusty and unpredictable winds. The day started in a slightly more exciting manner than planned with a 0340 phone call from Second Mate Rowan, who was on anchor watch, reporting that she had spotted an unlit yacht drifting past the ship.
Captain Darren had been informed and had requested the launch of Thunderbird 1 (The DOTI boat). So ‘International Rescue’ i.e. me, Beth the Bosun, and BM Lindsay, set off in the DOTI boat in search of the vessel, which was drifting out to sea at a speed of 1.5 knots.
We proceeded at full speed, scanning our searchlight over the calm sea, in the process startling some flying fish (who in turn startled us), before we came upon the unoccupied, aluminium-hulled yacht, obviously someone’s pride and joy.
Beth bravely boarded the vessel and finding it locked, proceeded to the bow to attach a tow line. Sorting out the line to ensure it would run safely took a little while and by the time we were ready to commence towing operations, we were more than a mile from Tracey Island (Nellie).
Towing into the gusting winds was a slow and very wet process. Lindsay and Beth (who had sensibly put on an oilskin jacket) could put their backs to the bow of the DOTI boat, whilst as cox’n I had to face the gusting winds and spray, a task my showerproof jacket was, unfortunately, not up to. Thankfully, the sea down here is reasonably warm but by the time we had safely attached the yacht to Nellie, all three of us were rather soggy with me achieving an ‘eleven’ on the sogginess-scale.
After a quick shower I took over the anchor watch from Rowan. Thankfully, the remainder of the watch was uneventful but at 0700 I saw a fishing vessel approaching. It was carrying a very, very grateful owner. The fishing vessel duly towed the errant yacht back to the mooring it had escaped from.
Later that day, after we had run the Voyage Crew ashore to explore the rugged island, the owner came back to the ship bearing gifts; a bottle of his home-made rum and a book about the island, which he had written. Our Portuguese isn’t good enough to read the book but as sailors, we fully understand the international language of rum.
Lesley, The Mate.