Caribbean Sailex 2016

The long awaited Caribbean Sailex to the Leeward Islands got off to a good start on Thursday 14th January.  Two Oceanis 48's were chartered with 7 on board each yacht.   Starting from MARIGOT, Saint Martin both yachts sailed south - beats the UK weather

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Text received from Dave Clark aboard Dalton on Thursday 21st January 

Dalton had major instrument meltdown two days ago and all except the plotter died. Thierry 1 and Thierry 2 at Dream Yacht Charters have been on the case all day. Including going up a 30 metre mast... a bar stool, especially Neil Mckechan's dodgy ones, are high enough for me smile emoticon — at Jolly Harbour Marina.

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Sunday 24th January.   Neil sent the following text saying that Joule had a problem

Joule's steering mechanism failed.  They were unable to steer properly with the emergency gear so we took them in tow.  However they began to take in water and the auto and hand bilg pumps appeared u/s.  Towing was very difficult and they began to sink despite bailing.  Adrian had sent a pan-pan so upped it to Mayday.  We went alongside and took off the ladies.   Keith and Adrian stayed on board, then the helicopter arrived and dropped two guys on board.   They could not do much so we took Keith and Adrian on board and we're now approaching Deshaies leaving Joule to her fate.  Both yachts have already shown major problems requiring DY technicians!  Joule's crew remarkably cheerful.    Neil

Dalton successfully transferred the crew of Joule to Guadeloupe for the night.  Monday 25th January Adrian made contact with Dream.    These are the pictures taken by Dave Clark of the attempted rescue and final moments of Joule.   Dream Yacht Charter later confirmed she had sunk.

 Guadeloupe coast guard dropped from helicopter

Guadeloupe coast guard dropped from helicopter

 Joule low in the water. CG on board with Keith Stedman and Adrian Johnson

Joule low in the water. CG on board with Keith Stedman and Adrian Johnson

 Guadeloupe CG on board trying to fix the problem

Guadeloupe CG on board trying to fix the problem

 Joule now very low in the water - time to leave.

Joule now very low in the water - time to leave.

Monday 25th January

Neil and his crew plan to press on to Martinique tomorrow morning.  Adrian and his crew will discuss their options with Dream Yacht Charter and hopefully join up with Neil and the crew of Dalton on Friday for  the last night supper.  Much to tell , we wish them all well.   We understand that the crew managed to recover most of their personal kit before Joule sank .

Tuesday 26th January.

Neil and his crew aboard Dalton have reviewed the worsening weather forecast and have made a decision to stay put in Basseterre until Thursday then complete two long hops to DY in Martinique.        Adrian called from the DY base in Guadeloupe saying that he and Keith have now completed their reports and will spend Tuesday and Wednesday exploring Guadeloupe.  They spent the first night in a hotel and are now based on a super CAT on the marina - bags of room and great sleeping with en-suite facilities.  On Thursday they will either fly or take the fast Sea CAT to Martinique.  Have Friday to explore then meet up with Dalton's crew friday evening for dinner.

Thursday 28th January

Neil's text arrived 21:30 hours today.  After two days in Basseterre, Guadeloupe to let high winds pass through, Dalton left at 06:30 bound for Dominica.  Passage between th islands was rather bumpy with high seas and a big squall gusting 35Kn approx.  In the lee of Dominica the seas subsided and we made good progress to Roseau at 14:00 hours.   Now on a mooring and cleared in/out by customs.   Neil

Adrian and the crew of Joule made a decision to tale the flight rather than the Fast CAT and arrived in Martinique before lunch.   Dream Yacht had  no suitable yacht free for the crew to use for a couple of days/nights so Adrian made a decision to check into a hotel for Thursday and Friday nights.  

 Joule picture from the web.

Joule picture from the web.

 Attempted recovery

Attempted recovery

Friday 29th January

At 5.00 pm Neil sent a text to say that Dalton was safely moored up in the Dream yacht base in Martinique, and they were having a beer after a long 68Nm trip from Dominica.   They all ate ashore in the evening. reports good.

Saturday 30th January

Hand over day for Neil and later all will make their way to the airport for the flight home which leaves Fort de France at 19:25 Caribbean time ( 23:25 UK time) scheduled to arrive Paris at 8:30 on Sunday morning.   The final leg with BA to London then onward by road to the respective homes.

Sunday 31st January

Air France flight from Martinique arrived Paris Orly at 9.09 this morning some 39 minutes later than scheduled.  Next leg BA Orly to London scheduled to depart 10.45 and arrive Heathrow and arrive London at 11:10 - Stats show arrival at 11:12.  Unfortunately more lost luggage but this time hoped for recovery.

Looking forward to the TOG annual Dinner / Disco two weeks today on Saturday 13th January at Quorn Grange, Leicestershire, to get first hand accounts.   Bookings for our Annual Dinner / Disco are now near if not already at maximum.  Any last minute interest must be directed to Andy McWilliam - see the Social Page.