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Solo sailor’s high drama on the high seas en route to Bermuda

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Anthony Lisske with his boat, Walrus, in St George (Photograph by Owain Johnston-Barnes)

An American healthcare worker said he was delighted to be on the island after he endured mountainous waves on a solo voyage in a tiny boat from New York.

Anthony Lisske, 49, told The Royal Gazette yesterday that he had picked a good weather window for the journey – but his passage through an eddy in the Gulf Stream had put him at the mercy of “substantial waves”.

Mr Lisske said: “At that point it was night and I couldn’t tell exactly what was happening because I couldn’t see anything, but I noticed I was doing close to 19 knots.

“This is not a fast boat, so I asked myself how is this possible.

“It was like picking up a tablecloth with a matchbox car on it and watching it slide. I guess the wave was just that big.”

He added that his 26-foot boat Walrus rode down the wave until it collided with the wave in front of it and water swamped the vessel.

Mr Lisske said: “My fuel bladder had started to spring a seeping leak along the edges of the tank – I guess it was the pressure of hitting that wave that hard.

“I started to get diesel on the deck and one of the seals on the hatch started to let water into the boat, so I had to climb up there in the weather covered in diesel to fix that.

“I planned to burn about 275 coming here and I had an extra 120 gallons of fuel to spare, but I basically came in on fumes.”

A Harbour Radio incident report said they got a call from the US Coast Guard about an emergency radio beacon alert from Walrus 253 miles northwest of Bermuda at about 2.10am on Sunday.

A US Coast Guard aircraft was scrambled and a nearby merchant ship was asked to go to the boat’s last known position.

But after contact was made with the Walrus it was realised that the beacon had been set off by a wave and the boat was able to continue to Bermuda.

Mr Lisske said he decided to make the trip because he found himself with free time as he moved from Manhattan to Long Island.

He explained: “I thought I should take a trip by myself and when I was thinking of all the places I always wanted to go, Bermuda was right there.”

Mr Lisske said he had owned the Walrus – constructed by Groverbuilt – for about ten years.

He added: “Al Grover, who built the boat, took one across the Atlantic. It was a renowned story from where I was.

“I thought if he could make it across the Atlantic, I can make it to here.”

He said that he had grown up on the water and had been on longer journeys before, but had never been so far from shore.

Mr Lisske added: “Those who didn’t know anything about boats thought it was insane.

“My father, who grew up on the water and worked on the water, said it was doable, but it wasn’t going to be comfortable and I was putting myself at some risk.

“My mother was beside herself. The vast majority thought it was a bad idea.”

He added that many of the people he spoke to brought up the myth of the Bermuda Triangle.

Mr Lisske added: “I didn’t really think about it too much. At least not until I was about 350 miles off shore.”

He said he contacted Harbour Radio about his situation and said staff were “beyond professional” in helping him reach Bermuda.

Mr Lisske added he arrived in St George’s on Monday and, after taking his arrival Covid-19 test, spent two days recovering from his ordeal.

He said: “My plan is to be around for a week. Everyone here has been unbelievably kind.

“I cannot say enough about the kindness and the hospitality.

“I’m from New York, and New York is not that hospitable, so it has been just so great. I have a big smile on my face.”

Anthony Lisske with his boat, Walrus, in St George (Photograph by Owain Johnston-Barnes)

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Published October 21, 2021 at 2:15 pm (Updated October 21, 2021 at 2:15 pm)

Solo sailor’s high drama on the high seas en route to Bermuda

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