The sailboat Chessa was headed toward Bermuda when one of the 65-year-old Canadian sailors became ill. His partner contacted U.S. Coast Guard rescue authorities in Norfolk, Virginia, requesting assistance. “He passed out,” stated the yachtsman about his sailing companion, “and a strong front is coming over and we are in the low.”
The SMT Bontrup, a 656-foot bulk carrier, was sailing from Maracaibo, Venezuela, when they were contacted by Coast Guard rescue personnel about the distress. Captain Krzysztof Szwed immediately agreed to divert and assist the sailors.
Three hours after the initial notification, Captain Szwed had the Bahamas-flagged ship alongside the sloop and began hoisting the sailors aboard. “The first survivor was lifted on board because he could not walk on his legs,” the Captain said in an email update to the Coast Guard, “the ship’s crew is keeping a vigil by the survivor’s cabin.”
After a meal aboard the ship both survivors were feeling better and able to contact their families by satellite phone. The SMT Bontrup is sailing to Portland, Maine, where the survivors will be met by Customs officials. The SMT Bontrup, managed by SMT Ship Management and Transport of Limassol, Cyprus, enrolled in the Automated Merchant Vessel Reporting program on January 1, 1979, and has earned 22 AMVER awards for participation.
Visit the AMVER website to learn more about the program.