Brian Cameron and John Hookway have kindly taken the time to describe a voyage they undertook aboard Brian's catamaran, "Sticky Paws" back in 2006.
Vessel: "Sticky Paws", 47 ft ferrel catamaran, MGFV9
Owner and skipper: Brian Cameron ELYC
Crew: John Band DSC, Angus MacDonald DSC, John Hookway ELYC
Voyage: Part of a voyage from Lagos Portugal to Inverkip Scotland. Left La Caruna(ESP) at 1300UT 4 Dec 2006 intention Brest(FR) distance 390nm Forecast: 35 kts WSW
Boat speed was maintained around 8-10 kts with a following sea and 3 reefs in Main and 30% genoa. The wind built after 12 hours to full gale with maintained wind speeds of over 40 kts and gusts of over 60. Sea state was very rough and boat speed on occasions was over 20 kts down waves. These conditions were maintained for 20 hours. At 0530 UT the fore stay broke loose from the fore deck. The sail, fore stay and reefing drum, flew out to starboard immediately breaking the reefing line and allowing the whole sail to spin out. The sheets were flayling and shredding and the mast was panting and back stays shaking violently.
4 Horns brought the off watch crew quickly on watch.
Skipper assessed the situation as serious and quickly put out a PAN PAN to the rescue services. The rescue services immediately diverted a vessel to our waypoint assessed our drift and launched two lifeboats together with an ocean tug. John Hookway and later Brian Cameron went forward on deck, Angus a fluent French speaker maintained contact with services. John Band maintained a steady course hand steering dead down wind. The boom was dropped on the bimini and the mainsail dropped and made secure. Meanwhile John and Brian were trying to secure the reefing drum which was moving from starboard to port like a huge wrecking pendulum taking lumps out of the deck and anything in its way. The drum was eventually lassood and made fast on the fore deck. By now the foresail and sheets were in shreds. The spinny and spare halyard were brought forward and secured.
Brian and John on the fore deck, attempting to secure the forestay
Meanwhile the ocean tug had arrived (about 2 h after PAN PAN) and the diverted vessel stood down.The shredded sails were tied up as much as possible and shortly afterwards the first lifeboat arrived. We were now in fair shape and the engines were engaged. We were also delighted to see a helicopter flying overhead. This was not a rescue helicopter but Euronews who were taking live footage of the 'rescue' and also some stills which you see in the following pages and Angus was providing live French commentary!
The ocean tug stood down and we were escorted by lifeboat 1 who met lifeboat 2 on route to Cameret sur Mer . LB1 went East and we followed LB 2 to the dock. We were safely tied up at 1300.