Everest Horizontal inverts
Kent and his companion onboard, Rick McKenna from Elm Grove, Wisconsin, were suddenly faced with the grim situation of being under water in the Atlantic Ocean with an unruly broken yacht above them and 110 miles of ocean to Bermudan land.
Kent takes up the story:
"Shortly after reporting our position to the Bermuda 1-2 Race Committee last night and learning that we were just a few miles behind Tim Troy on Margaret Anna, Rick and I were psyched to have a great battle all the way to Newport. But the battle turned out to be with the sea instead of our competitors.
We were sailing at 12-13 knots in steadily building breeze under full main and solent (our working jib) when two sharp BANGS sounded from down below. We did not slow as if we had hit anything, but the boat began to round up and lay on her side. With the mast and sails in the water and I climbed around the stern of the boat to look at the
keel to see what had happened. The sight that greeted me was chilling...the lead bulb had snapped off of the keel strut. Everest Horizontal, the wonderful boat that had carried me so safely around the world, was crippled beyond my ability to help her.
I climbed back to the cabin, where Rick was unlashing the safety gear required by Around Alone. Thank goodness for their strict rules about pyrotechnics! I had just gotten the big waterproof box of flares and a headlamp and we were reaching for the EPIRB when the boat began to roll over, which she did VERY quickly, trapping both of us under the boat.
Rick was in the cabin and swam to the stern. I released my tether and followed him out. The best sight I have seen in many years was Rick bobbing in waves next to me! We each picked a rudder, climbed up on the upturned bottom of the boat and held on.
And on the horizon was a brightly lit cruise ship! She was the Royal Caribbean ship Nordic Empress, under the command of Yngvar Knutsen. Captain Knutsen and his crew had no trouble locating us, as I lit up the sky over the next hour with ten of our twelve parachute flares, guiding him to our position, which we also marked with the hand-held
flares in our box. I was most fortunate to have taken the headlamp, as it made it possible for me to read the instructions on the various flares!
Presently, the Nordic Empress arrived on site, lowered a lifeboat, and to the cheers of the passengers and a galaxy of flashbulbs, she made her way to our crippled race boat. The crew was wonderfully professional, coming alongside and tossing out a life-ring. I sent Rick first, wanting a few more moments with Everest before I was forced to abandon her. With my inflatable vest blown up, I then dove in for the lifering and was hauled aboard the lifeboat. I never saw Everest again.
We arrived alongside and then the lifeboat was hauled back up to the 6th level, where we were issued blankets and taken directly to the infirmary. We were both thoroughly checked by the ship's doctor and nursing staff, issued clothing, and were sent to individual rooms for hot showers. The staff and crew of the Nordic Empress have been wonderful to us. Captain Knutsen and his wife had us up to their cabin where Rick and I expressed our thanks for our rescue...and our lives.
Rick and I are most aware of how incredibly fortunate we are. Thank God for the wonderful crew of this great ship for saving us. We look forward to seeing our family and friends; we dock in New York City on Sunday morning.
Fellow Around Alone competitors Alan Paris and Brad Van Liew have started research to execute a salvage of Kent's boat, knowing that it is his livelihood and continuing the spirit of camaraderie only seen in the Around Alone race.
At this time Paris is developing plans for an expedition boat to search for the upturned hull of Everest Horizontal. Van Liew is recruiting divers and packing his own bag to head to Bermuda and then to sea to attempt a recovery the boat. Kent has disembarked the cruise ship in New York City and is making plans to reunite with his daughters in Milwaukee - not an easy task with no identification, no passport, and nothing to
The salvage of Everest Horizontal is uncertain at this time.
"I hope we can find her and save her," said Kent. "I am thankful that my friends sprung into action on my behalf. It is a costly effort and we don't know if we can find the boat and tow her to the shores of Bermuda."
Van Liew is optimistic and ready to embark on the recovery mission. "Tim is like family to me and I think we have no choice but to get on the water and attempt to salvage the boat for him. It will be a tough job to find her and then a tougher job to disassemble the rigging underwater and drag her to safety without severe damage."