Norwegian sailors say 'thanks' after international rescue

Norwegian sailors Erik Ostberg, and his wife, Gretta, arriving in Castletownbere, Ireland
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It was an international effort last week to save two experienced sailors, whose yacht was dismasted off the coast of Ireland. They were originally helped by a Spanish fishing boat, then the Irish Navy, then an RNLI lifeboat, to get their boat safely back to shore. The couple, who are long experienced sailors, have expressed their gratefulness.

The retired Norwegian photojournalist, Erik Ostberg, and his wife, Gretta, were very happy to be on dry land in Castletownbere in County Cork in Ireland last Wednesday night after five very difficult days at sea.

The couple said they were extremely grateful to the Irish Navy and the crew of the coastguard vessel Annette Hutton for bringing them to safety Wednesday last week.

Although experienced sailors, the couple – who have owned their 32ft yacht, Alice, for 27 years and regularly make the trip from the Azores to the Hebrides – ran into difficulty when heavy seas dismasted their yacht. They were 150 miles southwest of the Mizen Head, one of the extreme points of land in County Cork on the south west coast of Ireland.

On Wednesday, Valentia Coast Guard asked the local Castletownbere-based crew – who had only just celebrated the opening of their new lifeboat station the previous Saturday – to go to the assistance of the Irish naval vessel, the LE Aoife, which had been towing the yacht for two days.

At the time the yacht was dismasted they couple sent out a ‘Mayday’ call but it yielded no results and the couple were left with only a VHF radio. However, a Spanish fishing boat came to their assistance.

Despite the bad weather, the Spanish crew managed to land someone on the yacht and that man stayed on board with the couple for about 15 hours until the Irish navy came to tow them to safety.

The lifeboat, under Second Coxswain, Paul Stevens, met with the LE Aoife four miles south west of Ardnakinna Lighthouse and transferred the two sailors aboard the Annette Hutton.

When they landed in Castletownbere at 7pm that Wednesday evening the couple did what most visitors to Irish shores like to do: they sampled a traditional Irish whiskey! But it was, of course, for medicinal purposes.