Ronnie Simpson sents this report. UPDATE: Bela Bartok rescued and in port now. Article and video to come.
During the Singlehanded Transpac, there was a boat abandoned by it’s skipper as he needed a medical evacuation. Dirk Welmouth on the Vindo 40 "Bela Bartok" was transferred onto a container ship headed to Oakland, CA. "Bela Bartok" was 411 nm from Hanalei and was left with a small amount of sail set and a wind vane still steering the boat to the islands. Dirk is an experienced sailor and accomplished seaman. He became sick with a staph infection which was said to move to his lungs. His medical situation was so bad that the freight ship had to accelerate to Oakland to get him to safety. He is said to be recovering and should be in California soon, if not already.
The boat is now approaching the island of Maui. I want to be cryptic about it’s position or whereabouts until we have possession of her, but in an effort to save the boat from being run aground, lost at sea or salvaged, the Singlehanded Transpac fleet has come together to save Bela. A very generous fleet member paid for the charter of a fishing boat and two other generous fleet members purchased plane tickets for Ruben Gabriel and myself to fly to Maui. Ruben is a great friend of mine. We double handed my Moore 24 around the Farallones this year and both recently sailed Moore 24’s in the Singlehanded Transpac, so i’m really honored to be able to share this experience with Ruben and work to save Dirk’s boat. Dirk lives aboard the boat, so this is someone’s home that we’re talking about. Having lost a boat at sea, that I lived on, this is very personal for me to try to help reclaim Dirk’s home.
I am typing this from an airplane and with any luck, we will have intercepted Bela before sunrise as I believe the transfer will have to happen at night.
Forgot to mention, all of the boats in the race were equipped with "Yellow Brick" tracking devices. The tracker is still on Bela and is updating her position to us. Race committee had Yellow Brick remove Bela’s position from the race website and only we in the fleet have access to that information. It could be a bit sketchy but Ruben and I hope to be able to locate the boat tonight and make the transfer. The Coast Guard is in support of us and will be standing by the scene. Our search and rescue vessel is a small fishing boat with twin outboards. Should be fast, maneuverable and seaworthy. Also, it’s on a trailer and ramp launch able so that we can launch from the most convenient spot.
Wish us luck!