Floating container hazard
I am a single-handed sailor of a junkrigged yacht, currently on the east coast of Australia. The following story is taken from part two of my article on Sir Henry Pigott, which will be published in the Junk Rig Association journal in October.
In 1986, while at the yacht club in
Cape Town during his circumnavigation aboard Glory II, his 5.9m junk-rigged yacht, Pigott heard a lot of talk about containers falling off ships. There was a tug on standby in the port to retrieve or sink containers when their positions were reported. They can be a hazard to ships, let alone yachts. He listened to these stories but thought it was unlikely that Glory would run into one.
Two days out of Cape Town bound for St Helena, Glory was running easily before a Force 4-5 south-easterly wind, making four knots. He was motor-sailing with the engine just ticking over to improve the autopilot’s control of the rudder and to minimise the zigzagging course that otherwise occurred.
The skies were blue and the seas fairly calm. He was having his early morning cuppa, sitting in the hatch, when he noticed a lot of seabird activity dead ahead. This is unusual so far from land, and Pigott wondered if it might be a dead whale or a log. Glory was heading straight for the birds so he didn’t have to alter course to go and investigate.
Getting closer, very little was visible, but he could see that the waves were breaking over something solid. Then he saw that it was a container.
Just one end of it was above water, covered in seaweed. He could see the triangular legs on each corner. They looked rather like gigantic tin openers which would have made a nasty gash in Glory’s hull. Henry had to alter course at the last moment, noticing a turtle hovering around the container as he slid past. It was the first turtle he had seen at close quarters, though he was hardly in a mood to appreciate it.
Readers share their experiences encountering rogue waves