Passengers aboard the Orion where sailing on Day 11 of a 18-day Antarctica expedition cruise when they were drafted to assist in the rescue of a solo sailor who was adrift after his sailboat had sank more than three days earlier.
Experienced yachtsman, Frenchman Alain Delord was attempting to sail solo around the world, without assistance. He had been at sea since October last year. On Friday, his yacht, Tchouk Tchouk Nougat, was damaged and sank in rough weather off southern Australia’s Tasmania island.
The Orion diverted from its scheduled Antarctic itinerary to assist with the rescue, battling deteriorating weather conditions to reach him before sunset. It was the only ship within 100 nautical miles to respond to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)’s distress call. The AMSA had dropped Delord food, water, communications equipment and a safety suit on Saturday and had stayed in regular contact with him leading up to the rescue.
Orion captain Mike Taylor explained the situation to passengers, and while disappointed to miss a stop at Macquarie Island, everyone was totally on-board supporting the rescue. Air and water temperatures were both around 47 degrees, high winds, driving 10-23 foot swells with whitecaps and visibility cut to just over 500 feet. As the ship approached the covered raft, passengers lined the deck to get first sight of life raft. The sailor was plucked from the ocean via inflatable zodiak and brought on-board ship, to cheers and whistles from those on board. He immediately received receiving medical attention and early indications are that he is fine.