Saturday 7 December 2019

Any port in a storm now for weary Irish sailor

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Allison Bray

Irish sailor Enda O'Coineen is hoping for any port in a storm as he slowly heads towards New Zealand after limping out of a round-the-world yacht race.

The 60-year-old Galway native was gradually making his way towards Dunedin on the South Island last night despite being battered by freezing southerly winds from the Antarctic during a storm in the South Pacific.

Enda O'Coineen
Enda O'Coineen

He was travelling at about 5kmh aboard his stricken sail boat 'Kilcullen Voyager' which lost her mast on New Year's Day as he competed in the Vendée round-the-world race.

He is now out of the race and floundering in the sea about 200km from Dunedin using a makeshift mast.

"I'm in a storm at the moment. It's a gale but it's going the right way and I'm making progress," he told the Irish Independent via satellite telephone.

Ideally he will make it to Dunedin itself. But any port would do, he said.

Read more: 'I am huddled up in two sleeping bags and four layers of clothes' - Irish sailor hoping storm blows him to safe shores

"I'm trying to get to any harbour," he said. "At this stage, my main focus is on survival."

Although he is now within the 200km rescue zone that will enable a helicopter or other rescue vessels to come to his aid in an emergency, he said he was not ready to raise the alarm yet.

"I'm not declaring an emergency. I'm trying to get close to land on my own steam," he said.

He has enough food to last several weeks and is keeping himself warm and dry as he "vegetates" in the boat's cockpit.

Despite the loneliness, remoteness and isolation of the vast sea, he said he was trying to keep up his spirits.

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