FICKLE SOUTH ATLANTIC NOTHING TO MESS WITH
An Editorial by J. Brock (FINN)
For oarsman Colin Yeates the battle against the South Atlantic has been lost for the second time. At 1126hrs on Saturday, 18 February Mr. Yeates’ emergency beacon went off and a search for him was initiated by the Fisheries Department and the Patrol Vessel, DORADA rescued Mr. Yeates, who after a day at sea, had capsized several times and reported an injury.
FINN thinks it is time to consider the events and the cost incurred to rescue Mr. Yeates - twice. During an interview with Mr. Yeates, FINN asked a basic question about provisions that he had for medical emergencies. His answer surprised me in that it seemed that he had not thought through all the possibilities and probabilities that could happen to him medically.
No matter how well prepared – GPS – charts – emergency medical kit – website tracking – wind generators – Kevlar boat - etc. etc. – the South Atlantic around the Falklands can be as treacherous as the Southern Ocean. Why, one wonders, with gales forecast, did Mr. Yeats set out at all?
It’s nice to have a dream of accomplishing something no one else has done before. However, in this case, the desire to circumnavigate Antarctica in a rowboat was not completely thought through. Had Mr. Yeates been between the South Sandwich Islands and Bouvet Island, for example, his hopes for a speedy rescue would have been dashed. If there is anything fortunate about this whole episode it is that Mr. Yeates ran into trouble while he was near enough to the Falklands to get help straight away.
While numerous people – Sir Earnest Shackleton included – have faced the dangers of the South Atlantic and survived to tell the tale, there are others who didn’t. Even experienced and seasoned South Atlantic sailors have run into trouble at sea. Their knowledge of the fickle Ocean in these parts helped to save their lives.
Lets hope that Mr. Yeates will not try for a 3rd time lucky.