The Oskarshamn Marina managers—Anna and Rasmus Antonsson—had ACR Electronics EPIRB that activated when their Elan 43 vessel hit rocks.
Featured as a new tale of survival in ACR Electronics initiative SurvivorClub, Rasmus and Anna Antonsson, who run the Oskarshamn Marina in Sweden, were heading for Ciutadella from Mahon in November of last year when they lost both their headsail and engine power and started to drift toward cliffs. They managed to board their life raft just before their yacht grounded and was dismasted. The ACR Electronics GlobalFix PRO EPIRB they were carrying in the vessel activated when the unit came into contact with water.
Mr. Antonsson said it was hugely reassuring that their position was known by the search and rescue services, but said the experience taught them a number of lessons about boating safety. “After we reflected on the incident, we can say that we were very pleased with the ACR EPIRB and extremely grateful to the very professional and skilled search and rescue crew from Ciutadella,” he said. “We have never sailed without an EPIRB before and it felt really good that the ACR beacon was transmitting our position at all times. However, the EPIRB was one of the items left in the cockpit, so next time we will have one in the grab bag and one in the galley.”
Mr. and Mrs. Antonsson bought the boat, Polly, in the summer of last year in Croatia and planned to sail her to Sweden for an upgrade that had been readied for them to live aboard the craft in preparation for a world cruise. A former Army sergeant, Mr .Antonsson has previously worked as a skipper in both charters and deliveries. On the day of the incident, the wind was about 22 knots with high seas when they rounded the lighthouse at the south east corner of the island.
“We had decided to set the fore sails with the engine running at low rpm to reduce the rolling of the boat when suddenly the sails blew out from the furlex at the bottom and all the way up to the genoa halyard. We eventually managed to secure the sail, but almost instantly after we were back on course the engine completed died. We drifted quickly towards the cliffs. We sent out a mayday on the VHF but reception was very bad so we tried the mobile phone and they told us it would take 40 minutes for them to get there with no other ships nearby. The raft was stored aft so it was easy to just pull it into the water. We got in and drifted out about 40m from the cliff. After about two minutes in the raft, we heard the first big smash when the mast broke and crashed down into the cockpit.
“We learned a number of things. First, the raft must be easily accessible in the aft so that one person can slide it into the water. It would have been impossible for us to launch the raft if it had been on the deck behind the mast. Secondly, it is important to have a pre-packed grab bag with everything in it. We had the EPIRB, handheld VHF, backpack and other useful items in the cockpit, but the only thing we took with us in the rush was a bag with passports and credit cards.”
The experience has not deterred the couple who are now looking for a new boat as well as preparing for the summer season at Oskarshamn Marina.
The ACR Electronics GlobalFix PRO EPIRB is small and rugged and will automatically turn on and acquire a user's position upon activation. The unit's robust internal 66-channel GPS provides faster acquisition from a cold start, accurately fixing the exact location of the vessel in distress. The coordinates are then transmitted via a 406MHz distress signal to search and rescue authorities.
A growing list of survivors who activated ACR Electronics beacons in a life-threatening emergency have joined the ACR SurvivorClub to receive a free replacement beacon and share their stories and help raise awareness about the best practices to ensure safety, both on land and at sea.