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Tanker captain recovers sailboat

A Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2 is towed into Boston Harbor after it was abandoned in stormy seas

A Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2 is towed into Boston Harbor after it was abandoned in stormy seas

The captain of a liquefied natural gas tanker was caught off guard in June when he encountered a sailboat drifting in a shipping lane hundreds of miles off Massachusetts.

“I saw the boat in an area near a commercial shipping lane approximately 600 miles south of Nantucket, where it is uncommon to see sailboats,” says Geir H. Bratland, captain of Suez LNG’s tanker Berge Everett, in a statement. “I decided to investigate the situation in case anything was wrong. I was concerned that someone on board might be ill. It was important to stop and check, even if it caused us [to be delayed].”

The tanker was en route to the LNG receiving terminal in Everett, Mass. Suez LNG owns and operates the Everett facility and serves most of the gas utilities in New England, as well as supplying LNG to Maryland, Louisiana and Puerto Rico.

Upon inspecting the sailboat, Bratland found it abandoned but in good condition. He decided to tow the boat into Boston Harbor. “They said the boat looked to be in amazingly good shape,” says Doug Bailey, a Suez LNG spokesperson. “The crew probably thought someone was out there wondering where their boat was.”

It turns out that the sailboat, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2 named Caledonia II, had been abandoned May 29 by its five-person Canadian crew in stormy seas about 250 miles southeast of Nantucket. After being rescued from a life raft by a Coast Guard helicopter crew, the owners of Caledonia II figured their boat was lost. “They never thought they’d see the boat again,” Bailey says. “To have it found in good condition and towed in, I’m sure that was quite a surprise.”

Eight days after Caledonia II was towed into Boston, Edward Fudge, a part owner of the boat, met Bratland and thanked him for the recovery. The owners of the boat, along with Caribbean Insurers (which insured the boat), say they plan to make a sizeable donation to a Boston-based marine charity in honor of Bratland and his crew.

“Speaking for the owners and Caribbean Insurers, we are just so grateful that his particular vessel and this crew took interest in the Caledonia II,” Fudge says in a statement. “We had assumed it was a total loss. You can’t imagine the delight and profound gratitude that we have towards Suez LNG, Capt. Bratland and the Berge Everett crew.”

Suez LNG executives say they are happy that their captain and crew were able to help. “This situation underscores that vigilance at sea is always critical,” says Joe McKechnie, vice president of shipping for Suez LNG, in a news release. “We are pleased that Capt. Bratland and his crew could help fellow mariners in this way.”