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Hoo Ness Yacht Club Members Rescue Chica

Bert Evers, the new owner of Wil Pretty’s Telstar trimaran Chica left from Hoo Ness on the tide on Saturday 11th May 2013 intending to take it to his local marina in Friesland.

The forecast was good. However, off Harwich he then found himself in a F7.

The crashing into the waves caused some of the Starboard float top and bottom moulding joint rivets to pull out, creating a gap through which water entered and filled that float.

He did have emergency flotation in the floats in the form of blown up air mattresses.

He changed tack to keep that float out of the water and diverted to Ramsgate.

However he was not able to quite make Ramsgate so he decided to go to Joss Bay on Sunday afternoon and stay on the beach for a rest and to make repairs.

Little was he to know it, but his troubles were just starting.

After he had eaten his meal, a lot of officials turned up and started talking about how they were going to remove the boat from the beach. He decided to leave them to it and hoped they would lose interest and go away. However someone called the police and he was taken from his boat and taken to a hotel. This was not helpful as he had no English money, his mobile would not call in the uk and he had no transport. He asked the hotel manager to call Wil Pretty who paid for the accommodation over the phone.

The story is taken up by Wil :-

I picked Bert and his nephew up from the hotel at Manston Airport on Monday. Bert's sister had booked him on a flight back to Holland on Tuesday and his plan was to return on Wednesday with his car, a trailer and tools to effect the repairs. We went to look at Chica. We found that all the padlocks had been cropped, the outboard, instruments and everything had gone. I called the police to report this. However, then the local Coastguard Station Manager arrived and told us that all the valuables had been removed by them and were in safe keeping to avoid them being stolen. However this made the task of making Chica seaworthy that much harder as it included the electric start outboard and all the instrumentation, also the halyards had been removed. Time was not on our side, Chica had arrived on Springs and was on the shoreline, it would be neaps later in the week and so she would soon become neaped.

Bert and his nephew stayed with me overnight and I took them back to Manston for their flight early on Tuesday. Bert did not return on Wednesday morning and I have not heard from him subsequently.

Wednesday morning I received a call from the Coastguards at Dover to tell me that a Prohibition Notice had been served on Chica and that it would be illegal to go to sea until the repairs had been done and the Coastguard Surveyor had issued a release document.

Photo by Wil Pretty

I decided that I’d better help Bert as the longer Chica stayed on the shore at Joss Bay the more damage the waves would cause and it would be vulnerable to pilfering or willful damage.

Tony Lavelle offered to take his boat to Joss Bay on Thursday to tow Chica back and I and Neil Walters would make the repairs in the morning, get surveyor approval at mid day and then float off on the tide in the afternoon.

I stayed onboard Chica Wednesday night to make sure that she was not neaped. Despite being awash at High tide, she did not float. She was neaped.

I called off Tony's rescue trip. Things had just got more difficult.

I postponed the Surveyor till Friday morning and carried on with the repairs. Friday morning the surveyor came and approved the repairs and gave me the release certificate.

Now that Chica could leave, we rescheduled the rescue mission for Saturday. I spoke to a local farmer and he said that he would come with his tractor on Saturday and tow Chica down the shore so she could float off.

Photo by Wil Pretty

From then on all went smoothly. The farmer towed Chica 100 Metres down the beach, Tony, Charles Hessey and Mark Evans came from the Medway on Woodstock Hi, Chica floated off with the tide and Mark Evans picked up Chica in the breakers in an inflatable and towed her out to the mother ship. The tow back to the Medway was uneventful and we stayed overnight at Stangate before putting Chica on a buoy at Hoo on Sunday morning.

A successful rescue mission and Chica was saved from an untimely end.

Date Published 24th May 2013