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CORCOVADO'S SAD END — T

"I didn't get the bad news about my boat until my cell phone came back to life off Puerto Rico. What a helpless feeling, as there was nothing I could do until we made landfall. By the time I finished the delivery in St. Martin, my boat had been drifting to the southwest for three days, at what I estimated to be about 35 miles a day. "On January 12, I received a call from the French Coast Guard advising me that the pilots on a Dutch Dash 8 aircraft flying between Curaçao and Dutch Sint Maarten, having been aware of the report of an abandoned boat drifting, had spotted my boat. Ironically, they contacted authorities in Barbados for help trying to find out who the boat belonged to, and through them and a report in 'Lectronic Latitude, learned that I was the owner of the boat. "Corcovado Corcovado was 130 miles southwest of Guadeloupe when the pilots spotted her. In addition to getting her coordinates, the pilots took photographs of my boat. She looked to be in good shape, and my inflatable was even still trailing behind. At that point the chances of me rescuing Corcovado seemed reasonably good. But on the way back to Curaçao, the Dash 8 pilots couldn't find my boat again, so they were unable to provide me with an updated position. Damn! "Fortunately, my friend Hans de Bruyn Kops offered to help me try to find Corcovado using his 38-ft German sloop. When we left, we were under the impression that the Dash 8 would be flying again the next day, meaning there would be a reasonable chance that they could give us updated coordinates for the boat. As we later found out, the plane wouldn't be flying again for six days. Bummer. "Hans and I found ourselves in rough weather on our second night. At 2 a.m. Hans

Andrew Connell splits his time between Connecticut and St. Barth — where he sometimes crews on spectacular classic yachts.

French West Indies, begins the story: "My beloved Standfast 40 Corcovado broke loose from her commercial mooring — the shackle failed — at Gustavia, St. Barth on the evening of January 10. The fact that the winds often had been blowing more than 20 knots for weeks might have been a contributing factor. I was doing a 1,000-mile upwind slog at the time, delivering a boat from the Bahamas to St. Martin. For the record, I've made 50 trips between the northeastern United States and the Caribbean, and have done a number of Atlantic crossings. Although badly scratched, 'Corcovado's hull wasn't in bad shape. But without her hardware and equipment she was almost worthless.

ANDREW CONNELL

LATITUDE / RICHARD

his is the story of a lovely vintage yacht that made her way, powered only by the breeze and the currents of the Caribbean, from one of the nicest places in the sailing world to one of the most dangerous. Owner Andrew Connell, of Stonington, Connecticut, and St. Barth,

went forward to undo the inner forestay so it would be easier to tack. The boat suddenly rolled hard to weather, and Hans was thrown overboard. he then learned that Mark Twain was right: No good deed goes unpunished. "Losing someone overboard in calm conditions during the day is one thing, but it's much more difficult in strong winds, big seas and at night. I immediately swung the boat into the wind, backwinding the headsail, heaving the boat to. Next I got a halyard to Hans. It was difficult to get him back aboard, as he was being dragged through the water at close to four knots. But it was a life-or-death matter, and working together, we got him back aboard. "Our next goal was to create a 'goal line' between Puerto Rico and Curaçao, as Corcovado would eventually have to drift through it. For days Hans and I sailed back and forth, north to south, looking 300 miles to leeward of St. Barth. I'd left the boat's anchor light on at night, so I thought she would be easy to see. But as we came to realize, it's a big, big, big ocean out there. "After countless hours of being out in the tropical sun, and tedious hours at the helm — we had no autopilot — in 20+ knots and a big north swell, we were exhausted and disappointed. Hans was nonetheless eager to carry on, but eventually I had no choice but to call off the search. That left us with a 245-mile upwind sail back to St. Martin against the strong trades. It took us three or four days — I can't even remember — and we had very little to eat. "It had been an exciting, dangerous, fun and horrible trip, all at the same time. I believe that Corcovado is still out there and in good shape. I hope that somebody will find her."

T

hat was as of January 24. Andrew had better news to report on January 28: "A couple of days after getting back to St. Martin, I was informed that Corcovado had been found, and was being guarded at Cayo Sombrero island, in Venezuela's Morrocoy National Park. That meant she'd traveled 550 miles in 17 days, about 32 miles a day on a southwesterly course. I was told that

Profile for Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Latitude 38 March 2014  

The March 2014 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.

Latitude 38 March 2014  

The March 2014 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.