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‘I was far from anywhere, alone’ – A rescue story



Sailor Stephen Collins was rescued in the Tasman Sea by the vessel Lars Maersk

When Stephen Collins set out on a journey from Brisbane in Australia to bring his sailing boat home to New Zealand, he knew there were certain risks but he never expected the trip to turn into a life-changing experience. On September 3, a few days into his journey, Collins suddenly experienced a diesel leak which made the boat extremely slippery. At a position 20 nautical miles northwest of Elisabeth Reef in the Tasman Sea, Stephen Collins furthermore found himself losing control over the boat as his mainsail was ripped by fierce winds.

During the following 36 hours, Collins struggled to save his boat, his equipment – and his life. Despite the fact that his radio died, Collins was able to send out an SOS signal and entered the water where he waited for assistance. 48 hours after his initial problems began, Collins was picked from the Tasman Sea by Lars Maersk which had been alarmed by the rescue services and had deviated from its route to carry out the rescue.

A letter of thanks 

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Safely back on land, Stephen Collins sent out an emotional and heartfelt letter to his rescuers:

‘I would like to express my gratitude. From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank the Australian Rescue Coordination Centre, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the Australian Customs, the Australian Air Force and especially the Captain and crew of the Danish vessel Lars Maersk.

I was far from anywhere, alone. Conditions were terrible, hopeless really.

In the middle of the Tasman Sea, 40 knots of winds, rough seas, dusk then darkness. Thanks to the Rescue Coordination Centre, the Maritime Safety Authority, Customs and the Air Force, after six hours hard running the Lars Maersk got to my position.

I was in the water. It was dark and cold. Yet they saved me. During a three and a half hour fight for my life, the skills of the Captain and crew of the Lars Maersk somehow got me on board. Thanks to everyone who helped.’

Lars Maersk picture courtesy: c2.staticflickr.com