Captain recounts ordeal

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  • Les Crane

    Les Crane

The skipper of the Monterey, Les Crane, recounted his sadness after his boat slipped beneath the waves — even as the weary crew celebrated their safe turn to shore.

“I quickly realised, there’s not a lot I can do,” Mr Crane said, describing going back on board in a bid to identify where the vessel was taking on water.

“I was very concerned about getting trapped in the boat,” the skipper added, as he found three or four feet of water in the bow of the stricken sloop.

The Monterey went down early on Wednesday in the last leg of the Antigua Bermuda Race, some 200 miles south of the island.

“It’s sad. I had this boat 14 years. I’ve done 40,000 miles on this boat. You wonder what else you can do,” Mr Crane said.

“But we could not identify where the water was coming from.”

With its Kevlar hull, the 56ft vessel was “a really strong boat”, and the race marked a chance to bring the Monterey home 13 years after it was last here, “to have a great time in Bermuda for the America’s Cup” — followed by a voyage for the Newport to Bermuda race.

“Now it’s all history,” Mr Crane added.

The Monterey is now two miles beneath the waves.

Although the earlier watch had noticed a cracking sound, the skipper said he had felt no impact.

However, at around 4.15am, shortly after commencing his watch, Mr Crane went forward, looked in the head, and saw it “full of water”.

He found water in the galley and then in the engine room, and quickly concluded “we’ve got a problem here”, Mr Crane said, describing how the crew abandoned ship in a lifeboat and were taken safely on board the Esprit de Corps IV, another competitor, which they contacted by radio at around 4.45am.

Mr Crane said he and his crew of five had been “lucky” to be in a race, with other boats nearby. They abandoned ship at about 5am and by 5.30am were watching their sinking vessel from the rescue boat. By 7am, it was “awash”, Mr Crane said.

“It showed on the 7.30am yellow brick report, but that’s the last,” he said, referring to the satellite tracking system. “So I have got to presume it went down.”

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Published May 19, 2017 at 12:01 am (Updated May 20, 2017 at 1:34 am)

Captain recounts ordeal

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