Two Crew and Dog Rescued After Abandoning Ship

While it’s not always an easy decision to abandon ship, it’s important to remember that objects are replaceable, but lives–even those of our furry friends–are not. These Australian cruisers made a tough call, but one that resulted in a happy ending.

The crew of a passing ore carrier plucked a Thursday Island (Queensland, Australia) yachtie, his crewmate and dog from the waters off Cape York in a dramatic rescue last week, after their yacht started taking on water en route to Cairns.

Peter Weston, who lives on the boat, said he and Bruna McDowell from Cairns had “lost everything” after abandoning the vessel, which ran into trouble just before dawn near Shelburne Bay on Wednesday, January 18.

Speaking to the Cairns Post from the safety of the deck of his rescue ship, the Rio Tinto carrier RTM Piiramu, Weston said leaving the yacht had been a tough call.
“It was a big decision to abandon ship, but it’s a dangerous place to be this time of year because there’s no wind,” he said.

“You can replace your material assets, but you can’t replace a life.”

Weston said his six-year-old scottish fox terrier, Missy, was foremost in his mind as he and Bruna made their emergency escape from the sinking ship.

“She’s been living on board with me for six years. She loves it and sleeps in the cockpit and snaps at the fish,” said Weston. “She was cold by the time they winched her onboard, but the crew were there with towels and blankets for us and I gave her a cuddle and she warmed up.”

Ironically, the pair were taking the 38 foot yacht Empress III from Thursday Island to Cairns to insure it when it started taking on water in a section of the Great Barrier Reef off near Shelburne Bay, around 280 miles south of the tip of Cape York. A Rio Tinto spokesperson said the Piiramu was en route to Weipa from Gladstone when it answered a mayday call from the yacht at 4:15 a.m., and diverted 50 miles to rescue the two sailors and their dog.

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