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2,762 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Wonder how many members have been involved with saving sailors at sea and get a kick in the nuts for doing so.
I have been involved with two rescues and alas they did not get heroic accolades for doing so.
The first occassion was in the North Sea when on "Tourmaline" the mate called me just before daylight to say he had sighted a distress flare and was steering towards it.
As we got close and dawn was breaking we sighted a sinking catamaran wuith two persons waving franticly.
We stopped to windward and drifted down to them. Their craft was taking water fast and settlnig in the water and they wanted taken on board our ship.
The poor guys were exhausted as they had been trying to keep it afloat all night and had fired off their last flare.(the one we had observed.) and were verylucky to be alive.
We got the story after they were feed and dried and had some sleep.
We proceeded to Bevans Wharf after sending out a security about the cat which was nearly submerged by then.
Transpired that they were a "run" crew and taking the cat to its new owners somewhere in the south of England.
We landed then in the Thames after they had contacted the owners.
Couple of weeks later our office in Glasgow got a claim from these same owners contending that I had not excersised due dilligence by not trying to salvage their catamaran.
The law states we are required to save life but not necessary to conduct a salvage operation.
Don't know what they expected us to do anyway.
Next occassion was also in the North sea and I was on a Canadian vessel enroute to Bremen from Thames.
Once again the mate heard a faint mayday on the VHF.
Contacted Coullercoats Radia and as they also herad it we were dispatched to assist, being the nearest vessel.
After about a hour we spotted faint lights and proceeded to that spot.
It was a fishing vessel that had got the nets tangled in the propellor and after hours of trying to free they had given up. Ran out of electric power and the batteries were low.
Asked us if we would tow them to the nearest port which happened to be Blythe.
Passed them a thick nylon and got under way.
We were concerned as there were gale warnings issued and the weather was getting miserable.
Kept on asking if they were O.K. and if it was prudent to increase speed due to the deteriorationg weather conditions and always got the affirmative.
After many hours we were approachinng Blythe and I called the pilot boat up to get them to come out and take over the tow as I did not want to go in there. (was there plenty times with Robertsons loading coal)
They took over and away we proceeded to Bremen.
Couple of weeks later on my owners got a claim from the fishermen claiming that we had towed them too fast and had damaged the stempost by our careless lack of seamanship!
That was not the end of it as that claim was thrown out as we had been comnducting all our conversations on VHF channel 16 and Collercoats radio had been moniotoring them.
Next thing was that as the vessel had been under charter and we had deviated from the quickest route on our voyage we were put off hire until we got back to the place of deviation.
So much for the fellowship of the sea and although I never again was involved in a rescue I would always think seriously what I was doing and do***ent very carefully every and each action on my part.

Super Moderator
26,580 Posts
Lakercapt, your stories defy belief. It is the same ungrateful litigation culture that tried to sue NCL when the Norwegian Dawn hit a rogue wave. What else do people expect at sea?!.

It is also the same mentality who try to sue you for helping them when collapsing in the street. It is no wonder that some of us medical profesionals carry on walking these days. David

Premium Member
12,975 Posts
Red Sea

I was on a pipelaying barge earlier on this year which went on fire after 2 mysterious explosions. I had to evacuate the barge with over 380 persons onboard, the offical crew list said 176 persons. We could not get a boat alongside or launch our own rafts because of the sea being on fire. I got off with the last helicopter(over 30 Flights). Next morning in offical enquiry I got my a--e reemed by the Clients Investigation team for doing this as I was only onboard as client rep, told me I was very unproffesional so just let them go on critizing me. They went on and on and finaly asked me why I had run the operation - It was quite simple I told them your OIM(Captain) and Barge Superintendent p----d off on the first helicopter leaving their crew to their own devices. Ive never seen anyone eat Humble Pie like them. Worst thing though they kept us on the beach in the desert for 4 days and we flew home to the UK in the clothes we stood up in which were rotten with smoke and sea water. They had the nerve to phone me up at home to come back and as one does it was a Foxtrot Oscar reply. Sad thing about it even though it was only 10 miles off the beach they had no VHF or other radio equipment working so used my mobile phone to contact the Rescue Authorities.Their Emergency Response Centre ashore was not manned and I had to call Cairo and London to get them to get people in. The bill came to 386 Pound Sterling a Pound for every life saved. It was the best money I ever spent and 7 months later I am still fighting with them to get it back.

5,805 Posts
Not quite a 'green water' tale but indicative of the subject.

Launched on service with T Bay ILB to go to the aid of a dinghy spotted going backwards in the tide race sou'west of the South Stack light. Auxilliary Coastguard monitoring. 22 Sqn SAR committed elsewhere. If you know the area, he was just on the stack side of The Fangs.....crazy water, even if you know it.

Arrived on scene. Found a man sitting in an inflatable sailing dinghy, not looking at us, hand gripping the tiller - and going backwards quite fast - towards the overfalls off the Stack - which are fierce; trust me, I once nearly lost the ILB in them......(A)

He refused to converse so we made a decision to tow him anyway - danger of drowning, difficult location and plainly disbelieving his situation.

Towed him into T. Bay where the ungrateful bugger loudly berated us, saying we had forced the tow on him and that he wished to complain. Put him on to the Hon. Sec who (quietly) gave him a piece of his mind and - I think - told him he could pay for the rescue if he felt so aggrieved by our volunteering to assist him. Nothing heard!

Turned out he was on his first trip in salt water. Learned to sail on an reservoir up North and had been at sea all day - no lifejacket, no VHF, no flares. 'It's water, isn't it?'

I have heard another story (possibly a shaggy dog one - swing that lamp.. - ) of a lifeboat crew helping some yachtsmen in dire straits, one of whom was a very well to do offspring of someone very famous. In the rescue, his expensive Helly hansen got torn. A week after the rscue, crew gets a letter with a bill for a new jacket. Apparently - as the Offshore boat and a RAF helo was involved - the Hon Sec drew up a bill for marine and aviation fuel, crew wages (loss of earnings) and sent it no reply!

Needless to say they never paid for the jacket either!

Some awfully ungrateful folks out there........:-(


1,820 Posts
Something like Jonty's post happened when I was comeing up on Holborn Head from the west heading for Scrabster, when I saw what looked like three fat men on top of the water, turned out to be three guy's in a pram dingy looking for a days sea angling, Holborn Head may not be as bad as some to the east(pentland firth way) and west (brims ness)but with the strong tides running its no place for a boaty out of a counsel play pond,(about 3-4inches of freeboard) they could'nt understand our concern to get them back round the head before the tide turned, they certianly would not have lasted long if it did, and of course no lifesaving gear whatsoever,

Slaite Billy

2,514 Posts
Having spent thirteen years on salvage tugs I could tell you stories all day long of similar incidents. My brother spent three years working for the RNLI on Spurn lifeboat and some of the stories concerning yachts they saved beggars belief. He said it always seemed to be the "money people" who were the most ungrateful, the average pleasure craft was only too pleased to receive help.
Ray Jordan
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