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Canadian warship rescues two crews

A Canadian destroyer helped rescue the crews of two recreational boats disabled in a storm that ripped up the Atlantic.

A Canadian destroyer helped rescue the crews of two recreational boats disabled in a storm that ripped up the Atlantic.

The HMCS Athabaskan, a destroyer in the Canadian navy, was participating in naval exercises Nov. 9 when its crew was informed that a yacht crew was in need of assistance about 225 miles southeast of Nova Scotia, according to published reports. Battered by 15-foot swells and 50-knot winds the 33-foot sailboat, La Pierva, was disabled after a lightning strike caused its navigation system to fail. The boat reportedly set off three days earlier from Nova Scotia, bound for Bermuda.

“The instruments got burned from the lightning and we totally lost control of the boat,” one La Pierva crewmember says in a report in Canada’s Chronicle Herald newspaper.

A passing cargo ship attempted to rescue the crew from La Pierva, but the conditions were too severe to transfer the passengers safely, according to reports. “They tried to take us, but it wasn’t possible,” the crewmember says in the news report. “It was too big a boat and the waves were too big and the wind too strong.”

The crew of the cargo ship radioed for help, reports say, and the HMCS Athabaskan was rerouted to the scene. The destroyer arrived around 4 a.m. but its crew was forced to wait several hours before the seas calmed. The destroyer crew launched an inflatable boat and rescued all aboard La Pierva.

Hours later the HMCS Athabaskan crew responded to another recreational boat in distress. During the storm the mast broke on a 39-foot Canadian sailboat named Rochelle IV, also headed for Bermuda. The engine failed and the boat was taking on water about 400 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Mass.

As the crew of a U.S. Coast Guard airplane monitored the ailing Rochelle IV, the HMCS Athabaskan steamed towards the sailboat, reports say. The sailboat crew was eventually rescued and taken aboard another vessel, the 750-foot bulk carrier Anthemis, which also responded.

The fall storm affected a number of other recreational boaters, including three men aboard the 45-foot sailboat, Carpe Diem, according to the Coast Guard. The men were rescued Nov. 7 by a Coast Guard helicopter crew after their boat was floundering in heavy seas 150 miles off Cape Hatteras, N.C.