Published: March 22nd 2012March 22nd 2012
Never a Dull Moment
This morning as I looked out our window I saw what looked like a large orange coolie hat floating not far away. Then, looking further to the right I saw a fishing boat bobbing in the waves, but not really going anywhere. Our Captain, or rather the cruise director on behalf of the Captain, began this report. The Captain received a distress call early this AM that a Portuguese fishing boat was taking on water in the engine room and the eight men were abandoning ship and were on the raft with the orange cover. There was another ship, a tanker, within reach of the raft as well as we. When asked, the fishermen replied they wanted us to rescue them, and that is what we did.
The men boarded our ship while we radioed the nearest rescue center in Madeira where we had sailed about twelve hours earlier and where the men wanted to return. Soon we saw a helicopter approaching. Our ship does not have a helipad so the copter was going to hover over the top deck and lower a man who would then put a harness on the men and one by one haul them into the copter. The Captain had to maneuver the ship into just the right position and speed (very slow) so the copter could be steady. Our passengers were told to stay off the Lido deck and the top sports deck while this was going on.
Some people saw the crew from our ship dressed in hazard attire – thick, long raincoats, boots, and helmets – some carrying fire extinguishers and others managing a fire hose. This was to be prepared for the worst. The coptor made several passes before the first man was pulled up, and made a few more passes rather than just hover while all the men were pulled up. By this time we had attracted still another tanker, and they watched, probably having a better view than we. After the last man got to the copter it made one final pass to retrieve their suitcases. For this they used a basket. Finally, the copter flew away, back to Madeira, and we are continuing on to Portimao, Portugal after the three hour rescue effort ended.
As I said before, never a dull moment on this cruise.