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Public Speaking


Cruising Central America

The story on how I sailed on a small vessel around Central America.
Go to the start.


Capable sailors with maps, GPS, and not too difficult wind conditions run aground.
What went wrong?

Thank You

Our big "Thank You" goes to the US Coast Guards SAR who found us in the middle of the night and coordinated our rescue. People, we never met but will never forget!
US Coast Guards SAR


I spent what seemed hours staring through the dark of the cabin, which was only lit every 10 seconds by the blinking EPIRB. Why was there nothing else we could do, but wait? The minutes seemed to drag along extra slowly. Day light or at least a moon would be nice now.

Minutes later the moon seemed to be rising. On a completely overcast sky? And yet, a white shine suddenly seemed to enter the cabin. I jumped up and stared into the dark night through the open hatch. And there it was: A dark dot with a red and green light on the sides and a white dot pointing right at us. "A PLANE!" Steve was on his feet within a second. Yes, it was a plane heading directly towards us, looking for us. They had heard our EPIRB! Now, three hours later, there they were.

"The flares!", Steve shouted and I jumped out to get them out of the life-raft. Meanwhile the plane passed us. Had they seen the ship? It took us a while to get a flare going, and eventually, when the plane returned for the third time, we shot a red parachute up in the air. It flooded the whole scenery with dark red light, right at the moment when the plane approached us again. They had to see this!

Let's get in contact, was our next thought. Yet, the batteries were dead and the handheld radio turned out not to be charged. The plane circled us a couple of times. It then made a very low approach and someone shouted something through a loud speaker. We did not understand a thing. The plane then took off and left into the direction it had come from.  
We did not take any pictures that night. Most of those on this page are all taken from the movie "The Perfect Storm" and only give an impression on how it was like...

"We need power. Start the engine!" How, without a working battery, I was wondering, but still climbed into the cockpit and switched on the ignition. Nothing! I crawled back into the cabin, but stayed at the hatch looking for more signs of rescue. Then, out of nowhere, I suddenly saw the ignition lighting up. I was at the starter button a second later. The diesel started without a problem. We had power!

Steve got the communication systems back into gear. We also switched on all the lights we had: Now, 'Solitaire' could be seen through its position lights and distress strobe at the top of the mast. We also could see the reef reflecting in the cabin lights. Apparently, we were in the middle of a larger shallow area. No reason to fear, we could fall down. At least, not right away.

Then, the plane came back. Steve got onto his VHF and called them on channel 16, the emergency channel. They answered right away - YES! We discussed our situation and then, after assuring them that it seemed like we were not sinking, we agreed on waiting for a rescue plane which would come within four hours.

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2014 by Joh. Hennekeuser - Last update: 09-Nov-2014