Riot crew prevail in unruly weather

  • <B>The crew</B> on board sailboat <I>Riot</I> are all smiles after making land in St George?s despite boat damage after high winds.<B></B>

    The crew on board sailboat Riot are all smiles after making land in St George?s despite boat damage after high winds.
    (Photo by Tamell Simons)


A first attempt at an ocean crossing nearly ended in disaster after the sailing vessel Riot lost control of its steering while battling the rough weather.

“Anything that could go wrong did go wrong,” said the vessel’s 23-year-old captain Coleman Bowen.

“She is a pretty old ship and we had done some renovations, but pretty much everything we didn’t replace seemed to break. I’m just grateful we all made it home.”

Mr Bowen said he and his friends had decided to take part in the NARC rally with his friends, sailing from Newport to Bermuda before travelling south to the Caribbean and then East to Europe.

But while he said the journey started quietly with calm conditions, things quickly took a turn for the worse when the winds began to pick up.

“Stuff started to break. A lot of stuff started to break. I mean, everything broke,” he said. “We lost steering three times in three different ways.”

Even as the boat continued towards Bermuda Sunday morning, Mr Bowen said the crew battled to keep control, bailing water and foregoing sleep to keep the vessel moving in the right direction.

Worried that they would lose the ship and crash into the rocks, the crew called for help, but while the pilot boat St George quickly arrived on scene, the problems continued.

Efforts to tow the boat failed due to the inability to steer, and an attempt to tie up alongside the pilot boat resulted in more damage to the wounded boat.

Eventually, the crew made the decision to try and steer the damaged vessel through Town Cut.

“We came through in a sort of ‘s’,” Mr Bowen said. “We were maybe 100ft off the rocks and it was dark, so we didn’t really know what the lay of the land was. We could hear the waves crashing against the land, so we knew we were close.”

Luckily, the vessel managed to avoid the rocks and reach the relative safety of St George’s Harbour.

While Mr Bowen estimated the damage to be at least $10,000, he said he was happy that he and his friends escaped with only scrapes and bruises.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” he said.

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Published Nov 8, 2011 at 8:46 am (Updated Nov 8, 2011 at 8:46 am)

Riot crew prevail in unruly weather

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