Rescues At Sea

Date 11/12/06
Location Florida Straits
Summary Yacht Rescued


The St James Park

At 16:15 Lt the St James Park was on a voyage from Sikka to Houston with a cargo of Benzene. When she was in the Florida Straits she received a call from the USCG, Miami, requiring the St James Park to go to the assistance of a sailing vessel “Cole Key Napp” which was in distress due a problem with the rudder.
The St James Park immediately proceeded to the distress area keeping in contact with the USCG and also observed by a helicopter which had arrived on scene. As the St James Park approached the distressed vessel the office was informed, and at 16:45 half ahead was ordered. At 16:55 the St James Park slowed to slow ahead and prepared to take the yacht in tow.
The weather conditions were difficult and the yacht only had one person on board. The wind was from the North about Beaufort force 6 – 7 with seas of 2 – 3 metres.
The Captain of the St James Park tried to drift down to the Cole Knapp Key a lifebuoy but the yacht was drifting faster than the life buoy so he agreed a manoeuvre with the skipper of the yacht. Capt Gil manoeuvred the laden St James Park towards the yacht keeping her on the port bow. A heaving line was successfully passed when she was 5 – 10 metres off, and then the yacht went astern and the St James Park used her engines ahead with port rudder to keep away from the yacht as she dropped astern.
A towing line of 24mm Manila had been prepared and was now passed to the yacht. The crew had also made fast to the tow line at about half length an old spare part of about 25kgs to act as a centenary. At about 17:40 the towing line was secured and at about 17:55 the St James Park started towing the sailing vessel towards Bimini Island at dead slow ahead. Because of the swell direction the Master towed in a zig zag track keeping the swell about 30 degrees on the bow and slowing down when he altered between the port and starboard tacks. Continuing like this and with continual monitoring of the tow line he was able to speed up to half ahead and tow quite comfortably.
Whilst involved in towing the vessel was called by the USCG every 30 mins. The approximate towing distance was about 15 nautical miles, and the sailing vessel was released at around 1.8 nautical miles west from Bimini harbour entrance.
The St James Park reduced speed as she approached Bimini Island and at 21:00 stopped the main engine. At 21:18 the sailing vessel was cast off and passed to a local tug / cutter to take her into port. The St James Park resumed her voyage to Houston. A final report was given to the USCG at 21:30.