“Logic will get you from a to z; imagination will get you everywhere”

71. Saving Silbo Sailingvessel

When we were sailing along the North Spanish coast, suddenly we heard on the VHF Radio on emergency-channel 16: ‘Pan-pan pan-pan, this is Silbo, we need help, our engine broke down’. Gilles remembered that he saw French sailingvessel Silbo on his navigation screen, close by where we were sailing at that moment. They were just 1 mile away.

The harbor of Burela, which was the closest to Silbo at that point, responded to the emergency call. We heard their conversation about the fact that Silbo needed a ship to tow their boat into the harbor. The conversation with the harbor (in Spanish-English-French) didn’t go smoothly. We now could see Silbo from our boat, so we went to their boat.

It turned out that the crew of Silbo, Frederic, Amelie and their 2 childern Chloe (12) and Martin (8) left les Sables-d’Onlonne 4 days ago to start their 1-year sailing trip! And this was their first stage: from les Sables- d’Onlonne to Viviero in Spain. That would normally take them 3 days of sailing (300 miles) during 24 hours a day, but on day 3 there was little wind, so they wanted to start the engine and it didn’t work. So for 1 day and night they just floating around. Frederic pushed the boat a bit with their dingue to get a few miles further. But without an engine they would not reach the coast or could go safely to a jetty in a harbor.

We tied a line from their boat to our boat and towed them to Burela. In the harbor basin of Burela the Rescue Service came in their orange boat and wanted to assist further and help Silbo to go to a jetty. A friend of ours had the experience with his boat in distress and the rescue service asked a lot of money (minimum € 1500) for their help. And this harbor was also not an useful harbor for Silbo’s problem with their engine, because it was only a fishing harbor with few facilities.  

Since their end destination was the same as ours, Viviero, which was 4 hours sailing to the west, in consultation together we decided to refuse the Rescue Service help and tow them another 4 hours to Viviero.

We delivered them safely to a jetty and after being 4 days on the water, the family could finally rest and tell their friends and family they had arrived in Spain, after a little adventure, to now start their 1-year sailing trip!