Solo sailor Emmanuel Wattecamps' leap to safety with his pet cat from his stricken yacht was captured on video.
Solo sailor Emmanuel Wattecamps has set up a fundraising page to try and buy a new boat after his yacht sank following a dramatic rescue.
The 28-year-old Frenchman who is originally from Brittany, France was rescued from his stricken boat La Chimere on Tuesday, 20 October, approximately 400 miles south of Cold Bay, Alaska.
His leap to safety from his 30ft yacht to the Swedish ice breaking ship Tor Viking in heavy seas, was filmed by a C-130 Hercules Coast Guard plane monitoring the rescue.
Emmanuel said: ‘My beloved new pet (and new best friend) Pipalup the cat and I had just set sail for a long journey to Chile when tragedy struck as a rogue wave momentarily capsized La Chimere with Pipalup and myself inside the cabin.
‘The boat suffered catastrophic damage and began to slowly take on water immediately once turned back upright. I give all the thanks in the world to the United States Coast Guard for responding to my distress call and sending help.
‘Words cannot describe the feelings and emotions I experienced that long cold night waiting for rescue, wondering if someone, anyone would be able to locate us in time. With little Pipalup tucked away in my inner jacket for warmth, my diminishing spirits were getting the best of me until that moment came, one that I wish I could better describe, with the morning sun at my back I gazed into the horizon and there it was. A large ship headed right for me, staring me down. I don’t doubt that Pipalup could likely feel my heart when it began to surge with both excitement and relief…’
Emmanuel bought La Chimere in France back in August 2013 and has since made port in Spain, Portugal, Caribbean, Bermuda, Newfoundland, Greenland, Northwest Passages, and most recently (and lastly) Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
The cruising yachtsman said at Dutch Harbor he spent every dollar he had on boat repairs and supplies for the upcoming leg of the trip.
He said: ‘I spent day and night for two weeks preparing the boat for the rough seas ahead. It was one evening when I was walking from a local fabrication shop to the docks when I heard a desperate call for help coming from a pile of fishing equipment on the side of the road.
‘When I investigated the noise and grew closer to the sound, a tiny little black and white head popped out of a frayed empty sack. I had met my tiny little Pipalup. One look at her in the cold harsh night and I knew she was left for dead. One look from those eyes and she captured my heart.
‘She crawled out to meet me and it was then I knew she was destined to be a sailor. She quickly lived up to her destiny as she took to the rocking of the sailboat as if she was born for life at sea.’
Emmanuel praised the vessel and crew that came to his rescue, saying the ‘Swedish ice breaking ship cleverly and rightfully named the Tor Viking meaning “mighty”.’
Writing on his fundraising page, which has so far raised more than 3,800 euros of a 20,000 euro target, Emmanual added: ‘So ends one chapter of my life as La Chimere slowly sinks to the bottom of the north Pacific, another chapter begins.
‘The journey continues on and with your help I will captain another vessel (one that Pip approves of… of course) and we will further our life experiences into the great beyond. Yesterday I think I heard Pipalup meow to me that she would like to visit the warm weather in South America for the winter and meet her new mother, my fiancée Barbara. You know Pip, I think that’s a great idea!’
A US Coast Guard spokesman said: ‘The Coast Guard monitored the rescue of a mariner in distress aboard a 30-foot sailboat approximately 400 miles south of Cold Bay, Alaska.
‘The good Samaritan crew of Tor Viking, a vessel contracted under Shell, safely recovered the mariner and his cat.
‘Coast Guard 17th District watchstanders received an alert from the mariner’s emergency position indicating radio beacon. Watchstanders launched an Air Station Kodiak C-130 Hercules airplane and directed Coast Guard Cutter Munro to get underway from Dutch Harbor to assist.’
Alaska Rescue Coordination Center also launched two MH-60 helicopters and a refueling aircraft for long-range missions to assist with the case.
The C-130 arrived on scene and made contact with the distressed mariner who reported that he had no rudder or rigging and was taking on heavy seas.
A nearby Shell vessel, Polar Pioneer, dispatched the vessel Tor Viking to assist the mariner after being contacted by the C-130 crew.
‘The assistance of the good Samaritans on this long-range distress call was vital for the success of the rescue,’ said Bud Holden, a Coast Guard 17th District watchstander. ‘The crew of Tor Viking battled 20-foot seas and gale force winds to help a fellow mariner.’
Weather on scene was reported as 20-foot seas and 46 mph winds.
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