Don’t believe that containers are no longer a threat to cruising sailors. Only two weeks ago, solo French racing sailor Mathieu Claveau’s small yacht hit a “hard object” in the middle of the Atlantic and sank. Now, five South African sailors are lucky to be alive after their yacht struck what they believe was a container and sank off Maputo in Mozambique this week.
The rumors that containers are built to sink after a while can not be substantiated when these incidents continue. According to Richard G. Roenbeck of St. Paul Global Marine in a recent address to the American Institute of Underwriters, “The number of containers lost overboard has been reported to be somewhere between 2,000 and 10,000 each year.” In another address it was intimated that the reason many containers do not sink is the amount of polystyrene contained in the packaging.
In the latest incident, the crew drifted in their life raft for more than seven hours before being rescued by a tanker, and are now on board the vessel en route to Singapore.
Skipper Gerrie Boshoff, of Vanderbijlpark, and the crew were sailing from Reunion to Durban when their vessel, The Wizard, struck the container in the early morning.
“It happened at night, so it would have been impossible to see the container before they struck it,” said a former crew member.
With the vessel taking on water, the crew sent a distress signal at 4.30am, which was received by the SA Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Center.
The center’s rescue mission coordinator, Mark Steed, said that attempts to contact The Wizard were unsuccessful.
“A second beacon detection from the vessel was received and a safety net broadcast to vessels in the area was put out, asking all vessels to respond and assist.”
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