Golden Globe Race Day 218: Puffin rolled, dismasted in 70-90kt winds in South Atlantic
by Golden Globe Race 10 Apr 20:35 PDT
11 April 2023
Rolled over, dismasted, injured back, gashed head, water in the boat – Ian Herbert Jones message to Race control in storm gusting over 90 kts with confused sea.
Ian Herbert Jones unable to deploy his drogue was hand-steering in heavy weather 50 kts gusting 80kts with 7.7mtr sea and dangerous counter sea.
Yellow Brick distress signal manually activated at 1725 UTC, 25 minutes after Ian missed a scheduled safety call, informing GGR he had been rolled.
GGR Crisis Management Team (CMT) informed CROSS Griz-Nez, UK Coast guards Agency and MRCC Argentina who are directing rescue operations.
Dateline: Les Sables d’Olonne, Monday, 10th of April, 2023
At 1540UTC Ian Herbert Jones skipper of “Puffin” rang the GGR Race Office on Iridium phone to advise that he was in extreme weather and confused sea, 50 knots, gusting over 70 knots, running under bare poles, trying to hand steer downwind. The yacht was laid over often by the force of wind and waves. There was a small amount of water down below. The line was bad and contact was lost.
10 minutes later Ian called again. He could not launch his drogue to keep Puffin stern to the waves. Conditions were extreme and he had been washed out of the cockpit twice. He had activated his EPIRB. Don McIntyre advised Ian that the extreme weather would last for at least another 5 hours, and that he should launch his drogue if possible, to assist down wind control on Puffin. Keeping the stern facing the wave is critical to avoid being rolled.
There was only 8 inches of water over the cabin sole and Ian said it was probably leakage through the cockpit, the manual bilge pump was working and Puffin was not sinking. The mast was secure and all safety equipment onboard was secure, although his electrical system was low on power.
Because he was unable to make contact with his Satphone, Ian decided to activate his EPIRB so that the Search And Rescue chain would be aware of his position and situation.
The Crisis Management Team (CMT) made initial contact with the MRCC Argentina on the phone, to confirm the EPIRB signal reception. MRCC confirmed receiving signal from Puffin’s EPIRB and that they had opened a case with the information contained in the GGR Safety Book provided by the organiser prior to the start of the race. CMT provided SITREPS as information came available.
At 1725 UTC, Ian had missed a planned safety call to GGR CMT. 25 minutes later they received a message from PUFFIN YELLOW-BRICK YB3 satellite tracking and texting unit advising ” Button ALERT…. 46., 57.250S 037, 12.382W “
This meant that Ian had gone to the YB3 satellite texting and tracking unit, manually lifted the safety cover and pressed the distress alert button. This is recognised as a distress protocol for all GGR entrants, suggesting he was in trouble and could not text or use the sat phone. A SITREP was immediately forwarded to MRCC Argentina, followed by a call to explain the importance of this development.
Search and Rescue Puerto Belgrano are coordinating the rescue. Puffin was still in extreme weather. There are several ships in his vicinity, including a tanker 120 miles North of his position, and several fishing boats. MRCC Argentina is attempting to make contact with them and seek their support.
The low pressure system is moving quickly through Puffin’s position, currently SW 55 knots, gusting 88 knots. Puffin’s tracker position is updated every 15 minutes. At 1810 UTC, Ian’s second satphone and second YB3 tracking and texting device (normally on standby) were activated. Ready for use.
Latest fleet update and update on Puffin situation
At 1842 UTC PUFFIN sent the following YB3 TEXT message – Rolled Dismasted , injured Back, hard to move, 2ft water in boat. Then at 1844 UTC PUFFIN sent another YB3 TEXT Message – Situation getting worse..need weather break to cut rig from PUFFIN
The 7.7mtr South West sea also had a forecast 1.8mtr North East secondary swell at 9 second intervals at the same time . This is hard to comprehend, two opposing seas and suggests an extremely dangerous sea. With the mast down hanging over the side and Ian unable to cut the rig clear the risk of damage to the hull is real. The motion of the Puffin without a mast is also very dynamic.
SITUATION : 2015 UTC Sat phone Message: Cutting Rig away, water ingress under control, Back getting stiff, Gashed head.
Earlier phone call:
At 2015UTC Ian rang with a poor connection but explained the water ingress was under control, he had gashed his head and his back was painful and getting stiff. Conditions were horrendous, but he must cut the rig away as it is bashing against the hull. He was part way through that task. We then lost contact. At 2025 UTC Ian rang again. GGR gave the latest weather forecast that winds and sea are very slowly dropping in the next 12 hours., discussed the possibility of a ship being diverted. He wanted SHIP ETA but advised ship NOT confirmed yet. Phone batteries are OK.
Further updates will be made when available. Our thoughts are with Ian and all those working to assist him at this moment. We thank them for their efforts.