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Sunday, 1 November 2015

Carly's Final Odyssey

Many followers of this blog will not be aware that Carly was lost at sea on Friday 19th June.

We set sail from Durban on the Thursday towards Madagascar and by Friday morning we were about 50 miles NE of Durban. After breakfast together I turned in at 8 o'clock to catch up on my sleep and woke again at 10 o'clock. The sailors worst nightmare, Carly was no longer on board. The wind was blowing westerly at 10 to 12 knots with a moderate sea on a clear sunny day and Oryx was sailing at about 5.5 knots under the self steering. I dropped the sails and tried an all ships mayday on the VHF radio, but with no replies and no ships in sight. We were 6.5 miles off the coast and no mobile phone reception. The Navionics tablet app. had been running our course so I decided to run back along our track under engine and try and find Carly. I searched until I arrived back at our pre 0800 position and then went inshore to call for help by telephone. I contacted the NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) who started to organise an air and sea search. I went back out and started a zig-zag search back along our track. A couple of hours later 3 helicopters (SA Air Force, Durban Harbour & Richards Bay Harbour) arrived and started a search pattern and also a light aircraft from the Shark Board did a high level search with thermal imaging and surface radar. Shortly 2 NSRI boats from Durban joined the search. At last light the search was called off for the night and I went inshore to anchor for the night. The next morning I went back out to the track and continued searching heading SW and was joined by the two NSRI boats. They had to return to base at noon because of low fuel while I continued the search until sunset, when I sailed back to Durban.

The NSRI coordinated the search using unprecidented resources in an efficient manner, but we failed to find Carly.

The only small consolation is that in the last few weeks Carly had spent a lot of time with her daughter Irene, and more recently with her son Dylan, who lives in Durban, and much time with her delightfull granddaughter Hannah.

We held a memorial service for Carly on Saturday 27th June at the Royal Natal Yacht Club.








                                        Durban Harbour a few days before we sailed


Carly started this blog for the interest of family and friends, but it quickly reached a wider audience with followers from Uruguay to the Ukraine  with 1,000 views a month. Carly really appreciated that so many people enjoyed her writing and the photographs of Oryx's travels. Thank you all.


At the end of July Oryx and I sailed from Durban to Mauritius and then on to Albany, Western Australia.

Pete Hill