Voyaging sailors encounter a costly castoff

When you speak with voyagers about hazardous objects at sea, many will bring up the dreaded partially-floating containers, or hardwood logs spit out by tropical rivers. But few would probably worry about a long, floating section of rope. But World Arc participants Robert and Patricia Budd aboard the Shannon 43, Bristol Rose, are now, no doubt, converts to the danger of errant rope. Like some modern-day sea serpent, a long bit of rope became coiled around the rudder and prop of Bristol Rose. Given sea conditions, there was no hope of cutting the rope free, so the Budds called a radio Pan Pan. A tug was dispatched from Panama to tow the vessel the 120 miles back to Panama. This particular ocean-going rope is proving to be an expensive length of discarded line. In an upcoming issue of Ocean Navigator we have a story from Twain Braden on the tools available for cutting lines free of your prop.

From the press release: In the early hours of Sunday morning (14 February), whilst on passage direct from Panama to Galapagos, the American flagged Shannon 43 Bristol Rose, sailed by Robert and Patricia Budd, became entangled in a large drifting rope. The immediate effect was loss of propulsion and jammed steering; on inspection at first light it became apparent that one of the propeller blades was badly damaged, and the thick rope was jamming the rudder. Heavy seas made further overboard work dangerous; with light airs, a heavy swell, and a jammed rudder progress under sail was difficult, so skipper Robert Budd issued a Pan Pan call for assistance.

Under direction from the Coastguard in Panama, the tug Elgia Elena was despatched from Panama to rendezvous with Bristol Rose, now some one hundred miles south west of Panama, and drifting at up to 2 knots. Further assistance was provided by MRCC Falmouth and the US Coastguard, with fellow World ARC participant, Eowyn also involved with communications relays.

At 0620UTC today (Monday 15 February) Bristol Rose reported that they were in contact with the tug; communications were difficult and it had taken some time for the vessels to identify one another, helped by coordination from World Cruising Club Rally Control in La Libertad (Ecuador), and the regular position reports from the yacht’s Yellowbrick Iridium tracking unit, which were relayed to the tug.

Too rough to attempt to secure a tow in the dark, the tug stood by during the remainder of the night, before connecting the tow in daylight hours, shortly before 1400UTC. Bristol Rose is now safely under tow heading towards Bahia Piña, Darien, Panama, approximately 120 nautical miles away, where they are expected to arrive within the next 24 to 30 hours.


By Ocean Navigator