• Drama On Post Sydney Hobart Return Trips

    Showtime in happier times

    Story by Hanna Wootton https://www.afr.com

    The crew of a Sydney Hobart yacht were rescued in "extraordinary circumstances" after the strong winds fanning the blazes on NSW's South Coast sunk their boat off the coast of Bermagui.

    Skipper and Pinsent Masons law partner Rob Buchanan and his crew were picked up by emergency services around 5.30am on Sunday after their boat Showtime, a Ker 40 racing boat, flipped three hours earlier.

    The crew faced 48 knot winds as they travelled up the east coast, having earlier sailed across Bass Strait in "post-apocalyptic" conditions caused by the bushfires.

    The strong winds broke off Showtime's keel, resulting in the boat fully inverting around 2.30am on Sunday.

    According to Mr Buchanan, the seven-person crew's survival was in part due to one crew member "doing one of the bravest things I've ever seen".

    After the crew dived out from under the sinking boat, their life jackets prevented them from going back under to retrieve a life raft.

    Christian Charalambous – "the bravest person on the boat" – took off his jacket to head back under and get the raft.

    "The boat was trying to kill everybody as it was banging around and we were holding onto it," Mr Buchanan said. One crew member was knocked out by the boat.

    It seemed like a post-apocalyptic '80s Mad Max movie.

    — Skipper Rob Buchanan

    The crew put out a mayday call and activated its emergency beacon, as well as using a personal location beacon once they were in the raft.

    "I understand from the police that a helicopter spotted us. We were lucky as there were loads of emergency rescue people around because of the fires," Mr Buchanan said.

    "And there's no lasting physical injuries. There's a few cuts and bruises, but that's it."

    The same southerly wind cost another Sydney Hobart boat its mast in the same part of the ocean on Sunday morning.

    The Army Sailing Club's 30 footer Gunrunner lost its mast on Sunday morning and sent out a distress call before retreating to shore in Eden.

    Marine Rescue NSW warned on Monday morning that marine radio communications around and south of Eden were affected by widespread power and telecommunication outages caused by the bushfires.

    The organisation's director of operations, Andrew Cribb, urged sailors to reconsider any planned trips.

    Yachts returning from the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race faced smokey conditions as they made their way past Victoria in the wake of the New Year's Eve fires.

    "When we got halfway through the Bass Strait, we hit the smoke cloud. It seemed like a post-apocalyptic '80s Mad Max movie. It was dark at 5pm," Mr Buchanan said.

    Salvage attempt
    The skipper thought the Showtime was still floating near where it capsized, 17 miles off Bermagui's coast.

    "It's undamaged other than the keel, I reckon. We think it's currently upside down somewhere near where it went down," Mr Buchanan said.

    He said the boat's insurer would likely try to salvage it soon.

    The dramatic rescue will not be stopping the legal hotshot from sailing again, either.

    "It's a risk you take when you go sailing, just as your car blowing up when you go driving is a risk," Mr Buchanan said, adding that neither are likely, but they are still risks.

    "In the last year, I've done a lot of sea miles. This hasn't happened, but statistically it's possible."

    He already has a race pencilled in for February.

    "Provided I can get the annual leave, of course," he said.

    Mark Griffith:
    Drama overnight. At around 2:30am Showtime set off it's Epirb off the NSW coast on way back from Hobart . It is believed that the keel broke away and the boat overturned. All crew were able to make it out and launch the life raft. Now all safe in police boat on way to Port Kembla. Well done to Rob Buchanan and crew for handling such a dangerous situation so well. And thanks to Marine Rescue who responded immediately and professionally.
    *Update* Photo by Rob Buchanan - was just told this. Still just so glad all are safe

    An update from crowd favourite Gun Runner:
    After traveling from Hobart through Bass Strait on the Army's yacht with 50 knot winds, she was demasted.
    We made it into Eden at 0500, and then by 1230 we were being evacuated from the Eden wharf due to bushfires.
    We are all safe but it’s been a big 24 hours.

    (adventures of a sailor girl)
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Drama On Post Sydney Hobart Return Trips started by Photoboy View original post