On route single-handed from Marina ZarPar in Boca Chica The Dominican Republic, to Martinique, in the early hours of the 22nd of April 2014 Eileen of Avoca responded to a mayday call on VHF channel 16 from the yacht “Chicharra” 10 nautical miles south of Casa de Campo and approximately 7 miles west of Isla Saona.
Before dawn, I had noted a sailing vessel to my stern. I had also been listening to faint distress calls on VHF 16 which I monitor continuously.
At the time I was under the impression that the sailing vessel behind me was that of a friends yacht, which had left Marina ZarPar with me, and had been occasionally crossing my path the day of our departure and throughout the night.
Only after I saw what I thought to be a distress flare and heard a much clearer call for assistance, did I pay closer attention to the approaching vessel, and realise that it was sailing somewhat erratically.
I immediately responded to the mayday call and asked for a position report.
The response confirmed that the yacht I could see was the yacht in difficulty.
I turned Eileen about, reduced sail and radioed that I was on my way, pressing the Emergency button on my own VHF to relay my position and solicit further help.
As I approached two crew were abandoning ship, boarding an inflatable dinghy.
From the lack of free-board their yacht had obviously taken in a lot of water.
The crew made haste to come alongside Eileen and I helped them aboard.
My 23 foot yacht was too small to render any other kind of assistance.
I ferried the exhausted crew with their dinghy, to the Marina at Casa de Campo where I left them with the authorities. Continuing my trip to Martinique and arriving on the 1st of May.