Cruisers Rescue Immigrants Adrift

ARC competitors discover boatload of African immigrants bound for the Canary Islands

A boatload of distressed African immigrants added a little extra drama to this year's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), a 2,700-mile transatlantic race sponsored by the World Cruising Club.

On November 29, the crew of Flying Start, a Moody 38, came upon a small boat with 15 suspected African immigrants on board. Nick Lewis, skipper of Flying Start, contacted the World Cruising Club, who in turn contacted Marine Rescue & Coordination Centre in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Authorities requested that Flying Start remain with the other boat until the hospital ship Esperansa del Mar (which arrived on the scene November 30) could assist the immigrants. Thirty-four people had originally set out on the small craft, and when Flying Start arrived, one of the remaining 15 had just recently died. After the rescue was complete, Flying Start rejoined the ARC and continued on their way.

With the large number of illegal immigrants fleeing the west coast of Africa in search of a better life in the Canary Islands, it's not surprising that one of the ARC boats would cross paths with immigrants at sea. What was surprising, however, was the location in which the people were found: some 400 miles southwest of the Canary Islands and 200 miles off the coast of Africa.

For more about the incident, click here.