Whale collision sinks boat on final leg of around-world voyage

Reflections in happier times - now lost after colliding with a whale
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A long range cruising sailor on a 50ft Perry Cutter has been rescued after being hit by a breaching whale off the coast of Mexico, on the final leg of his journey round the world. The collision damaged his steering and caused the boat to start sinking.

Max Young, 66, from Sacramento in California has owned Reflections since he bought her new in 1985 and has sailed her around the world, surviving many crises including the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Africa.

Max Young - rescued just days before his voyage was to be complete
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He was two days away from finishing his journey when tragedy struck. While he has traveled with crew through many parts of his voyage around the world, he was sailing solo late Tuesday about 30nm west of La Playa, Mexico when his boat collided with the breaching whale.

The impact from the collision knocked out the sailboat's steering and started flooding it. He activated an emergency beacon.

The 11th Coast Guard District Command Center in Alameda picked up Young’s signal at around midnight, and sent a Coast Guard plane, a HC-130 Hercules, from Sacramento to check it out. The command center also asked a Panamanian merchant ship for help.

The ship, the Ocean Virgo, was about 40nm away from where Young’s signal was. Young had deployed his life raft, just in case he had to abandon his boat. The Hercules stayed in radio contact with Young until the Ocean Virgo arrived.

When the ship arrived around 4 a.m. Wednesday, Young, who was baling to stay afloat, was able to scramble off his boat by a rope ladder thrown down by the crew of the merchant ship. He was unharmed.

'This case is one of those success stories,' said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Pamela Boehland, 'A man went out prepared, the worst happened to him and he was able to respond,' she said.

Young is en route to Panama where the Ocean Virgo was headed.