24/01/2014

Big cat's African surf-ari

After drifting at sea for eight months, a Western Australian vessel that capsized in rough weather has been found washed up on Mayotte Island, a remote dot in the ocean between Madagascar and the African east coast.

Perth-based Club Marine member, Stephen Knight lost his boat to the sea in May last year after it was overturned while at anchor off Serrurier Island north-east of Exmouth.

Knight, who has some 30 years boating experience and is well-acquainted with the Exmouth region, had made the 37nm trip to the island with a friend aboard An Extreme Crowd, his 8m LeisureCat Sportsfisher. After a day of fishing in ideal conditions, the weather abruptly turned sour when an unexpected southerly change ahead of a storm whipped the sea into a frenzy. With their anchorage in the lee of the island no longer safe, Knight and his crewmate moved the boat to less stormy water on the other side before retreating to the land to ride out the storm.

In the meantime, An Extreme Crowd dragged its anchor before capsizing, and was then given up as lost. That is, until Mayotte Island authorities found it washed up on a beach on January 2 and were able to notify Australian authorities thanks to a Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue Group sticker on the hull.

Club Marine WA Claims Manager Paul Stein handled the settlement when Knight lodged the original claim and was astounded that the boat had been found.

“The vessel was lost in pretty foul weather and although Club Marine sent a search aeroplane and worked with local Water Police for several days, we weren’t able to locate it,” said Stein. “At the moment we are coordinating with Mayotte Island authorities to see what can be done with the salvage.”

Found upside down, the barnacle-encrusted An Extreme Crowd had evidently drifted 3700nm westwards across the Indian Ocean before coming to rest on the beach at Mayotte Island.


Vessel washed up on Mayotte Island
After drifting at sea for eight months, this WA-based vessel was washed up on an island beach near Madagascar.


Vessel washed up on Mayotte Island
Australian authorities could be notified thanks to this decal.


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