Then the crew of the tanker pulls Wilson Street to their side. Only now the sailors notice the enormous swell. Their boat rattles and scrapes four meters along the side of the ship with every movement. The GRP grinds on the red steel. Corrie hears a crack as if the hull of Wilson Street is breaking.
A rope ladder to safety
The yacht alongside the tanker – GRP grinds on red steel © Private
And then suddenly the sailboat scrapes along the side of the tanker towards the stern, where Corrie sees the huge propeller that makes the water boil. „Oh God, we’re going to get minced,“ it shoots through his head. But then finally the tanker crew has secured the yacht. Just before the stern of the tanker, the yacht pauses, a rope ladder falls down. At the top, at the railing of the tanker, a dozen or so Filipinos in overalls and helmets are standing, indicating to the sailors to climb over the ladder on board. There is no safety line.
In no time at all, Jennifer has stowed all the most important documents, ID cards and boat papers in two waterproof backpacks, along with her engagement ring, a cell phone, money – as well as a dress and photos of her children. She has also stuffed two sailing jackets into a large garbage bag. And two coffee cups. She still doesn’t know why. „I just packed everything I could grab,“ she says. When she appears on deck and hands Corrie one of the waterproof bags, he storms below deck once again. „I just wanted to take something with me too,“ laughs Corrie. „But I didn’t know what. So I took the hand compass that was hanging in the navigation corner.“
The most difficult part of the rescue is still to come. The two sailors have to get up the ladder somehow. But how? The yacht goes up and down, thunders against the tanker, then it is once again three meters away. The two know they have to jump on the ladder when the boat is on a wave crest, otherwise the dancing Wilson Street could crush them against the steel wall. Jennifer’s first attempt fails. She slips down the wet ladder, bruises her foot. For a moment she thinks she has broken her toes. Her soles are still slippery from the diesel.
The tanker crew pulls Jennifer and Corrie on board © Private
The second attempt works. Step by step she pulls herself up. Corrie comes after her, protecting Jennifer’s legs with his arms, with which he clutches the ladder. They leave the garbage bag with their jackets and the compass in the cockpit. No chance to take it up the ladder. Halfway up, Corrie has a request. In a calm tone he says to Jennifer. „Could you climb a little faster, please! It’s not very comfortable here.“ Jennifer is having fun today: „He asked really nicely and said please!“
Above 80 knots in gusts
When they reach the railing, they are hoisted on deck by the crew. Immediately, two crew members climb down and release the salvage lines on board. „Should we bring anything else,“ they ask politely. Jennifer points to the garbage bag in the cockpit. Then the castaways are asked to come to the bridge, where Jennifer first apologizes for their stench. Wilson Street drifts out of the lee of the tanker and is swept away by the hurricane.
Corrie and Jennifer after the rescue on the bridge of the Team Osprey © Private
Only now do the two realize the danger they have been in. They see the weather forecast and the wind indicator, which now shows over 80 knots in the gusts: Far more than wind force twelve. Nevertheless, they ask themselves whether they have given up the boat, their home, too soon. The captain of the tanker disagrees. Only with a lot of luck could they have survived the hurricane. It is 12 noon, only three hours ago they were sitting below deck having breakfast in a good mood.
The captain gives them the owner’s cabin and has dry clothes brought to them. Jennifer and Corrie now wear T-shirts with the tanker’s name on them, and checkered cook’s pants. Corrie and Jennifer sink into the black and white checked pants. It is all they have. They feel like clowns.
Back to Istanbul
After a warm shower, the two are supposed to appear on the bridge again. The General Manager of the Maltese shipping company wants to contact them. Meanwhile, the Team Osprey fights its way through the hurricane. The waves wash over the deck, the spray splashes down to the bridge. In the corridors it is hardly possible to keep on your feet. Even the steel colossus resembles a ship’s swing at the carnival. The tanker can only manage 4.7 knots in the storm. Normal is 15.