Cruise Ship Rescues Three Sailors Adrift at Sea After Mayday Call

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It’s the stuff of nightmares and something that every sailor hopes to never happen to them; being adrift at sea because your boat becomes damaged. It’s a situation that three sailors, two men, and a woman, experienced when their mast broke and they experienced a loss of power onboard their catamaran sailing yacht. 

En route from Queensland, Australia, to Noumea, New Caledonia, the three sailors ended up adrift at sea for three days, hoping for a ship to come close enough to receive their distress calls. 

Cruise Ship Rescues Sailors Adrift at Sea
Cruise Ship Rescues Sailors Adrift at Sea (Photo Credit: P&O Cruises)

Luckily for them, the P&O Cruises Australia cruise ship Pacific Encounter and her 3,000 guests onboard did indeed receive the mayday call. The cruise ship sailed from Brisbane, Australia, on May 3, spending the day at sea on May 4 to Noumea when they received the distress signal.

It had been a stroke of luck for the three sailors that they were found after just three days at sea, while the sailors still had enough provisions onboard. Once Pacific Encounter came within range of the sailing yacht, the three sailors were brought onboard by the P&O crew members. After being assessed by the onboard medical team, they were found to be in good health. 

P&O Cruises Australia said the following in a statement: “P&O Cruises Australia will always go to the aid of our maritime friends in distress, and we are pleased this was a successful rescue.”

Cruise Ship Rescues Sailors Adrift at Sea
Cruise Ship Rescues Sailors Adrift at Sea (Photo Credit: P&O Cruises)

Pacific Encounter, sistership to the recently revamped Pacific Adventure, has since resumed her cruise, visiting Noumea and Lifou, New Caledonia; and Vila, Vanuatu.

The 108,865 gross tons cruise ship will return to Brisbane, Australia, on May 10. Whether the sailors have remained onboard, or if they disembarked in Noumea to attempt to retrieve their vessel is unclear. 

While distressing, the three days adrift at sea for the three rescued by Pacific Encounter, are relatively minor compared to some of the more harrowing stories out there. 

It’s No Pleasure Cruise

Thousands of people pay thousands of dollars each year to spend months if not a whole year onboard a cruise ship. However, some people end up at sea for just as long, but not because they want to. 

In 2012, Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a Salvadoran fisherman, survived 438 days adrift in the Pacific Ocean. He set out from Mexico for a day of fishing, but a storm set him adrift for around 6,700 miles. He eventually made landfall in the Marshall Islands.

Poon Lim, a Chinese sailor, holds the Guinness World Record for the longest time as a castaway at sea alone. The British merchant ship he was serving on was hit by a German U-boat during World War II. He survived 133 days on a wooden raft in the South Atlantic, using rainwater, catching fish, and fighting off sharks.

Carnival Spirit
Photo By: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

However, there are more than enough stories about people who are not considered ‘professional’ sailors. In 1971, The Robertson family was adrift for 38 days in the Pacific after their yacht was sunk by killer whales. In 1982, Steven Callahan survived 76 days adrift on a life raft after his sailing boat sank.

Finally, Maurice and Maralyn Bailey, a British couple, spent 117 days adrift in the Pacific Ocean in a rubber life raft after their yacht was damaged by a whale.

Read Also: Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Rescues Six Men and a Dog

Luckily, most cruise passengers will never experience the hardships of being adrift at sea because their cruise ship has an accident or sinks. Cruise ships are designed with multiple safety features and redundancies to ensure passenger safety. 

This includes SOLAS regulations, or Safety of Life at Sea, stability measures, fire safety measures, life-saving equipment such as lifeboats and liferafts, and multiple emergency transponders that transmit the ship’s position in case of emergency. Of course, on the other hand, there are a vast amount of occurrences when cruise ships saved those adrift at sea.

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