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SV La Cenicienta

MAYDAY - Oct 9, 2008

On October 9, 2008 at approximately 2051z, SV La Cenicienta came to 14.300 MHz and declared a may-day. The controller at the time was Carl W4YKY. SV La Cenicienta reported his position as 28º - 21' N x 129º - 44' W or about 700 miles west California. The Capt. of the vessel reported he was a single-hander, that he had lost his rudder and was experiencing 35+ knot winds and 30+ foot seas. The Capt. also reported that the seas were life threatening and that the vessel was in danger of capsizing. SV La Cenicienta was described as being a 34 foot sloop.

Propagation was very poor but the net was assisted by several stations spread out from Hawaii, the US gulf coast and the US east coast. The net was also assisted by an aeronautical mobile station, Glenn W5GEB, aboard a commercial flight from Shanghai to San Francisco, on a Boeing 777. Glenn had the best contact with the vessel for the first hour or so and his assistance was critical in gathering the information necessary for rescue.

The USCG in Alameda, CA was contacted and informed of the incident. Over the next few hours, updated information and instructions were passed back and forth between the vessel and the USCG in order to get to the vessel and effect a rescue. It was also learned that the vessels life raft had now broken free and that other evacuation equipment had been lost due to the vessel making hard, crushing rolls and being tossed around in the high seas.

USCG Alameda contacted two commercial vessels that were in the area (located via the AMVERS program) and both vessels altered course to intercept the SV La Cenicienta. A C-130 aircraft was also dispatched to the scene to drop a life raft but this was not done as the commercial vessels were not far off by the time the aircraft got to the area.

At 0404z, USCG confirmed that the Capt. had been rescued and was aboard the MV Vecchio Bridge. SV La Cenicienta was set adrift and other vessels advised of the hazard. It should be noted that the Capt. is 21 years old and is not a licensed amateur radio operator. He did have a marine SSB callsign, however.

A job very well done by all of the stations involved. And, thank-you to all the stations who stood-by on the frequency and did not transmit while the incident was unfolding. A clear frequency is just very important during these rescues.

73...Tom VE3II