Sailors earn awards for Caribbean rescue
12:00pm Fri Dec 30, 2016
With their certificates are Neil Macfarlane, left, and Stewart Cook, who played their part in ensuring the safety of a yacht’s crew in the Caribbean.
With their certificates are Neil Macfarlane, left, and Stewart Cook, who played their part in ensuring the safety of a yacht’s crew in the Caribbean.
Two experienced sailors who helped to avert disaster in the Caribbean have been honoured with Maritime Heroes Awards.
The crew works to save the Joule as it starts to sink.
The crew works to save the Joule as it starts to sink.
Mr Stewart Cook, of Adams Row, Southwell, and Mr Neil Macfarlane, of Lowdham, are two of 30 people across the country to receive awards.

The pair are members of Trent Offshore Group, which arranges sailing trips with experienced skippers on seas worldwide.

In January last year they were on an organised trip from St Martin to Martinique, a 350-nautical-mile journey over 15 days.

The group had chartered two Beneteau Oceanis 48ft yachts — Dalton and Joule — each with a crew of seven.

Mr Cook and Mr Macfarlane were part of the Dalton yacht, and were two of the experienced crew members on board.

On a 50-mile section of the trip, from Antigua to Guadeloupe, the Joule lost its steering about eight miles north-west of Guadeloupe.

The Dalton, with Mr Cook at the helm and Mr Macfarlane skippering, responded to a call for help and briefly took the stricken yacht in tow.

The Joule started to take on water and its distress call was upgraded to mayday, indicating life and vessel at risk.

Mr Cook performed a difficult manoeuvre to bring the Dalton alongside the Joule, allowing five crew to jump to safety.

The skipper and first mate of the Joule tried to work with lifeguards to prevent the ship from sinking, but they too soon had to be rescued by the Dalton as the yacht sank.

After everyone was safely on board, they travelled towards Guadeloupe before completing the rest of the trip.

'You have to stay calm'

Mr Cook, 66, was nominated for the award in the club service category by the Trent Offshore Group, which he served as secretary.

His nomination stated he always demonstrated good seamanship, excellent navigational skills and a responsible approach to safety and welfare of crew members.

He had also shown willingness and patience to teach offshore sailors.

“It is the first time anything like that has happened and hopefully it’s the last,” he said.

“Thankfully no crew members lost their lives and it was only people’s belongings that went down with the Joule.

“It is not something you expect when you go on the water but you have to be ready when you are put in that situation.

“You have to stay calm and put into practise all the training we have undergone throughout the years.

“While it was happening we weren’t overly concerned. We all knew we had a job to do and got on with it.”

Mr Cook said it was nice to be recognised for the award and he enjoyed giving others the opportunity to sail.

Mr Macfarlane, who received his award in the sailing achievements category, said: “Normally I am among the people looking to give out nominations so it’s nice to receive the award this time.

“We are happy that when we were faced with an incident we were able to make sure everyone involved stayed safe.”

The pair received a bottle of 12-year-old single malt whisky and a Maritime Heroes Awards certificate.

They are also in the running with the other winners for a chance to win £2,000 and a commemorative trophy.

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