A few days ago we had received the news that the U.S. Coast Guard had called off the search for the four sailors who, aboard the First 40.7 “Cheeki Rafiki,” had been shipwrecked in the Atlantic, in the stretch of sea between Cape Cod (U.S.) and the Azores, while returning to Britain from Antigua Sailing Week. The last communication from aboard the boat was dated Thursday, May 15, when the crew had issued an SOS saying they were headed to the Azores and that the Beneteau was taking on water but it was not clear from where: to this day, the cause of the accident remains unknown.
THE DECISION TO DISCONTINUE THE RESEARCH
After two days of searching, the U.S. Coast Guard had decided to call off the search for the sailors, who, presumably, had abandoned the half-sunken boat aboard the raft: although the Canadair had covered the length and breadth of the accident area, nothing had been found, also complicit in the poor weather conditions.
THE WEB’S REACTION CHANGED ITS MIND
The Coast Guard’s decision sparked outrage in the international sailing community, as well as discouragement from the relatives of the four missing (who, we recall, are Andrew Bridge, 21, Paul Goslin, 56, James Male, 23, and Steve Warren, 52). Given the numerous appeals to the relevant authorities, the Coast Guard decided to resume the search by deploying the forces shown in the image below.
SAILORS IN THE OCEAN CAN ALSO LEND A HAND
Meanwhile, the British magazine World Cruising Club has launched a web campaign asking boats in the area of the accident to cooperate in the search: these are not just a few boats, because the sailing season in the Caribbean is over and many crews are about to return to Europe. There are thirty boats taking part in ARC Europe that are heading from Bermuda to the Azores: one of them, the 64-foot catamaran “Malisi” captained by skipper Patrick Michel, has already reached the research area.
The image above reconstructs the search area, based on the latest positions sent by the Epirb from Cheeky Rafiki, the sighting site of an inverted keelless hull by a freighter named “Kure” (photo below) and the calculation of currents. In agreement with the Coast Guard, World Cruising Club has identified two possible “hot” spots: one further north (38-37N 048-48W) and one further down (37-36N 050-14W), about 100 miles apart.