Having had to abandon his 11-metre ketch Dumpling after a collision with a huge white vessel the size of an oil tanker or container ship three weeks ago, single-handed yachtsman Nick Cole has learned that his badly damaged and disabled boat has been located and towed back to
The Portuguese authorities have identified two white vessels that were in the collision area at the time, but the Falmouth Coastguard has refused to divulge the names because it is “commercially sensitive.”
Boats under sail generally have right-of-way over motorised vessels.
Cole was sailing from Porto Santo in the Madeira group of islands to Portimão in the
the collision occurred in good weather and in broad daylight. Algarve
“I was down below gloating over our progress, writing the log, counting the days etc when there was a terrific crash that threw me off my seat and the pans from the stove,” he told us.
“I raced for the deck thinking, ‘Shit! The mast must have come down!’ But when on deck I was confused by a huge white wall where there should have been sea and sky. It took a second to realise I was in a collision.
“As the ship passed, I called her on VHF to say we had collided and to ask if they could see me. They confirmed they could see me, so I said I would assess the damage and get back to them.”
Having established that Dumpling was in a bad way, he called back but received no reply. The huge white ship just carried straight on to the horizon.
Seven hours later Dumpling was still afloat and Nick had sorted the chaos on board as best he could. He had a beautiful moonlit night all to himself - but he thought a storm might be brewing.
“The next afternoon, after several failed attempts to make contact with other ships, a tanker called the MV
answered and told me a force 8 gale with big seas were due in four to five
hours,” he said.
He realised he would have to abandon Dumpling and asked the
to pick him up. The Russian captain and crew were most obliging and hospitable during
the voyage to their destination in the northeast of , but they were much delayed
in a queue of heavy shipping waiting to dock. England
Nick, his wife Sally and their twin sons, James and David, live in
but still have a home in the .
The boys attended the Algarve , Porches. International
Nick built Dumpling by himself in
England in the 1980s and sailed her to the before
opening a dental practice in Lagoa in 1990. A sturdy but unsophisticated
‘green’ boat, he extensively refitted her on the land in front of his home near
Silves in 2012 and sailed her to Porto Santo last year. Algarve
After the collision on his way back to the
, it was 12 days before he
finally stepped ashore, still feeling somewhat fragile but lucky to be alive. Algarve
Reunited with his family in
England, he made
contact with the British emergency maritime authorities in . They in turn contacted the
Portuguese authorities who reported that a fishing vessel had sighted Dumpling adrift five nautical miles west
in the Madeira Archipelago. Deserta Grande Island
The fishing vessel towed Dumpling to Funchal, the capital and main
. Her future
has yet to be decided. Efforts to positively identify the ship that smashed
into her are continuing. port
On board Dumpling before the crash
Alongside the rescue tanker