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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Pink Lady story

Shortly after I started this blog, I started to compile a list of known freaque wave encounters that can be found on record. That was a daunting task just trying to do it through surfing the internet. I managed to get to it as much as possible and it was published this year as a professional paper in Geofizika entitled "A chronology of freaque wave encounters."

One thing that any chronology compiler can not claim is completeness, no matter how much efforts one devoted. There were no encounter listed during the years 2003 and 2004. That certainly does not mean that there were no freaque wave occurrence in those years. Today I just came across a 2004 case that I missed. Here's part of the story from an article in the August 9, 2004 Telegraph.co.uk by Richard Alleyne:

Four British rowers rescued from a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic have described the moment a freak wave smashed their boat in two.

The men, 39 days into an attempt on the century-old record for a crossing from Newfoundland, Canada, to Falmouth, Cornwall, were 300 miles from home when they were caught by the tail end of Hurricane Alex yesterday.

They had abandoned rowing and battened down their vessel, the 30ft Pink Lady, hoping to ride out the 70mph winds and 45ft waves.

But just as it looked like they were over the worst, a huge wave hit the carbon fibre boat, splitting it in half and ripping out the back.

They were picked up by a container ship and are expected to be dropped off in Foynes, southern Ireland, today.

In other reports that huge wave had been described as 60 ft high freaque wave. They were poised to break the old crossing record of 55 days when the freaque wave hit. One of the crew, Jonathan Gornall, 48, a journalist from London said "We are all very grateful to be alive. It is a shame we didn't make it, but at least we can assure ourselves it wasn't anything we did wrong." He proceeded to say:
"We thought we were going to get through the night, the weather was going to moderate.

"We were in the rear cabin when this rogue wave struck us. We were trying to sleep and the next thing we knew we were under water and fighting to escape the rear of the vessel which had been smashed.

"When we surfaced we looked at the boat and it was obvious we had been hit by a tremendous wave. It was unlike anything we had experienced before.

"You take on nature and you take what she delivers - and on this occasion she dealt us a killer blow.

"I just remember hearing it coming - unlike anything we had experienced before."
Mark Stubbs, 40, a former Reyal Marine and skipper of the boat Pink Lady, said:
"I have never seen conditions like it. There was a force 11 wind and huge seas.

"We heard two cracks and then the boat sheared in half. There was a bit of a struggle getting out of the boat and into the life-raft and that was when we suffered the minor injuries.

"We climbed into the life-raft and got away. We had a bit of a heavy time in the raft because of the huge seas and screaming winds."

The four rowers were successfully rescued by the 400 ft Scandinavia Reefer, a container ship transporting bananas across the Atlantic. Probably the skipper Stubbs described their feelings best when he said:"We got out in one piece and that is the main thing. We are OK and we just want to get back to our loved ones."

Of course, this is one of the good stories to blog. Because, thank God, it's a happy ending and a happy story to tell for every one!

Now one of the crews, Peter Bray, is currently planning a new boat for a single-handed attempt on the North Atlantic route from Newfoundland to Britain according to this latest BYM Sailing ans Sports News.

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