Tag Archives: helping other sailors in distress

Thunderbirds International Rescue

Being rescued last week spurred thoughts of Thunderbird style rescues that we have been involved with since embarking on our adventures; those in which we have been on the giving rather than the receiving end!

The first occasion was in Mallorca in Cala Portal Vells when, in the middle of the night, there was an urgent knocking on Linea’s hull. We were roused from a deep sleep and adrenaline ensured that we were rapidly on deck.  We  leaned over the side to see a very frightened man in the water.  He kept saying, ‘Boat tip!’ and in the dim light from the moon we could just about make out the silhouette of a small yacht far to close to the beach and leaning over at an alarming angle.

Ian deployed the dinghy whilst the man swam back to the boat to his friend.  Initially, Ian tried pulling the boat forward off the sand but that didn’t work. Next, they pulled the boat over with a halyard to an even greater angle in an attempt to lift the keel out of the sand.  This together with their engine and the dinghy eventually allowed the boat to move out of the shallow water.

They anchored again and kept a watch and left early the next morning to head back to Palma.  It was their first trip out in the boat and we hope that they weren’t put off and that they have invested in a more substantial anchor.  Thunderbirds were, ‘go’!

In Sardinia, we had gone ashore in the dinghy to do some shopping and came back to the beach just as another family of six was climbing into their dinghy.  Unfortunately, they started their engine in a froth of seaweed and the engine gave up.  In my faltering Italian, I asked them to jump in our dinghy so that we could take them back to their yacht.   We towed theirs behind us.  It was fairly slow progress with eight of us in the dinghy but we made it safely back and they were most grateful.  Eat your heart out Virgil.

In Ormos Panormou on Skopelos, Ian whizzed off in the dinghy to help a crew member from another yacht secure the long lines to the shore.  They were really struggling to attach the heavy lines and then bring them back to the boat.   Puppets on a string!

In Porto Koufo this year, we were watching the rapid approach of a thunder-storm one evening when ahead of us across the huge bay I saw two people on a lilo kicking their way across to the opposite headland; snorkels poking up and face masks clamped to their heads.  As the rain began to bounce down on us like bullets and the wind whipped up the water, I was concerned about the safety of these snorkelers.

Ian shot off in the dinghy and reached them whilst they were still in the sunshine.  He asked if they were ok and they assured him that they were.  He pointed out the looming storm and they shrugged nonchalantly.  They refused a lift back to the shore and again said that they were fine.  What more could he do?  We watched them anxiously as they paddled back soon after; clearly they had realised their folly and were heading back to the safety of the shore.  Safely back to Tracy Island.

In Limnos this year Ian disappeared off the front of the boat to help a couple whose anchor was fouled on another boat’s chain.  He helped them disentangle the knitting and reset the anchor.  Lady Penelope would be proud.

Recently, when we were anchored in Aggias Annas trying to fix our own engine, we realised that we needed more diesel and a full tank of petrol for the outboard.  Just about at dusk, Ian set off across the bay towards the quay. He walked up to the petrol station and replenished our dwindling supplies.  On the way back in the dark he was approached by another yachtie on the quay, asking if he could help him.  He had run out of petrol for his outboard, too.  Could he use some of ours to get him back to his boat?  Ian obliged and Dimitri and his crew were very happy that he had turned up just when he did.  International Rescue whilst rescuing us!  A chip off the Gordon Tracy block!

The other day a couple came down the pontoon looking very tense and anxious.  They had anchored in the bay and brought people ashore but now their dinghy had died on them and they couldn’t paddle all the way back.  I offered them the use of ours.

Just yesterday, we were watching as a huge motor yacht pull out of the town quay here in Naxos.  Their anchor was fouled on the bottom and then the port propeller was fouled on a mooring line. They were pinned in.  Ian attended in the dinghy and with the assistance of other yachts nearby managed to secure the boat before it bashed into others boats moored on the wall.  He freed the anchor and the harbourmaster dived into the water to free the mooring line.  Job done!

This morning a yacht beside us that was pulling out and had his anchor trapped under the chain of a boat that arrived after him. With help from Thunderbird 2 and the harbourmaster’s Dad, (AKA Jeff Tracy!)  Ian managed to free the anchor and the yacht was soon on its way. Another rescue completed.

Parker served drinks on the deck!

My hero!  Ian, not Parker!