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10 November 2011

Yacht crew survives on battery water

Durban - A yacht crew who were sailing from Madagascar to Richards Bay were nearly shipwrecked after a series of mechanical failures and storms.

The sailboat Quest lost its mainsail, all its fresh water became contaminated, its desalinater packed up, its gear box overheated and the clutch burnt out.

At one stage the crew resorted to drinking battery water.

Skipper Mike Hein said that after the series of mishaps, while trying to sail 500 nautical miles to Richards Bay, by Friday last week they only had 1.5 litres of fresh water.

'Really critical'

Said Hein, a retired poultry farmer from Underberg, “It was really critical.

“Thankfully while near Xia Xia [in Mozambique] we let off a flare and a ski-boat came to our aid, giving us 25 litres of fresh water.”

When they were battered by heavy seas on Sunday night, about 80 nautical miles from Richards Bay, the Quest called the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in Richards Bay.

At 17:00 on Monday the yacht limped into Richards Bay harbour.

“Everything went wrong at night, but it was a great trip,” said Hein.

“We have been sailing for four months and we stopped along a stretch of the west coast of Madagascar and saw large schools of spinner dolphins and viewed Bassas da India [a coral atoll], which was truly remarkable.”

He said the NSRI Richards Bay is a slick organisation.

“They are an efficient, friendly and professional organisation. They are a credit to Richards Bay,” said Hein.