On 20 October 2013 my wife and I and our little Jack Russell Terrier, Dexter, set out from Prickly Bay Grenada on our 50 foot Beneteau Oceanis on a direct sail to St. Martin. At 12:00 on 21 October 2013 in 18 knots of wind on a starboard broad reach and 6 foot seas our rudder suddenly broke away without warning. We had not struck anything ... we were suddenly fighting to control our boat with no means of steering. We tried everything we could and as luck would have it the conditions gradually deteriorated.
We were 72 nautical miles from land and were forced to activate our EPIRB. The US Coast Guard immediately did what they had to and coordinated a search for us. A fishing trawler that was around 20 nautical miles from us made its way to our position. By the time they had attached a tow rope to us the conditions had worsened with 15 foot waves and 25 knot winds. The fishermen could not speak English and as a result I had to dive overboard twice and swim to their trawler and back to our sailboat. The 2nd time I nearly got swept away. I had to swim to their boat because the French authorities would not authorise a tow without speaking to me personally to confirm our distress and request for a tow.
To cut a long story short, we were towed for the next 29 hours to Martinique where we laid up and ordered a new rudder from Beneteau in France. Without the EPIRB we would in all probability have drifted for weeks or even months in the Caribbean Sea. Any storm that hit us would probably have had dire consequences because we had no means to steer the boat effectively. Our EPIRB was eventually replaced by ACR Electronics after we made way to Florida with our new rudder fitted.
We were not to know it but this replacement EPIRB was instrumental in saving our lives again in the middle of the North Atlantic in April 2014 when we lost our sailboat completely and had to take to our liferaft. That story has now also been submitted here and is a story that tells of how we nearly lost our lives in exceptionally challenging conditions. We believe we may have made history (for the wrong reasons), as we are apparently the first 2-time survivors rescued because of an ACR EPIRB!
Words of Wisdom
Without the EPIRB we would in all probability have drifted for weeks or even months in the Caribbean Sea. Any storm that hit us would probably have had dire consequences because we had no means to steer the boat effectively.
Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)
Roam freely and safely with the GlobalFix™ iPRO Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). When it comes to marine safety electronics, this EPIRB is in a class of its own. The GlobalFix iPRO has a digital display that lets you view all of the beacon's functionalities, including GPS latitude/longitude, transmission bursts, and battery power. Know that if you run into a boat emergency, the GlobalFix iPRO EPIRB will help search and rescue teams pinpoint your location and help get you home safe and sound.