SAIL BOAT & CREW SURVIVE CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE BILL: Dangers of Promoting World Peace

Sailing in a Category 4

Promoting World Peace can be a dangerous mission.

Several weeks ago, the United States Coast Guard called us and told us they found the crew and that they were safe. It wasn’t until last week we received our first email from them and then another week before we could talk on the phone. That was this week.

The following is taken from notes to the logs written after the Beija Flor, a 50 foot sailing yacht on one of its missions called the Peace Full Sail to bring eyeglasses, books, clothes and other items to people in need. They had no idea what they were in for. The sail made it thru 100 foot waves, and 120 mph winds during Hurricane Bill in late August and had they been lost in this hurricane, there wouldn’t be any hope.

The bravery and talent of the Skipper Detlef Kowalewski and his crew members need for survival is what saved these people. There was more that saved them as written in the log notes that follow.

It tells of their unsuspecting danger ahead, what they thought was happening, their struggle to survive, the foresight of founder (and this writer) Louis Ricca who was tracking their moves by some basic and rudimentary methods, their encounter with the United States Coast Guard after going through the eastern wall of the hurricane and their awakening on what they had just been through.

The story is really a miraculous one, but not complete since the crew is still tired and beat up, but still continuing on its mission and journey. It written by crew member Lorena Quintero Castellano who hails from Spain and was one of Spain’s iconic TV newscasters. It was originally written in Spanish and translated by this writer. There will be more once the crew is settled and rested.

We would like to thank and show our sincere gratitude to the United States Coast Guard, their men and women for their bravery to find the crew and to report to us that they were indeed safe. They are forever in our prayers.

Here is the translated account of the Beija Flor from crew member Lorena’s notes and perspective:

Dear Friends,

We’re still digesting that we survived a category 4 Hurricane, named Hurricane Bill. Not only have we survived, but the boat and us are alive sans a few repairs we need on our wonderful boat and our strength drained, but not gone.

Here’s a brief outline of what we experienced on our Peace journey:
After attempting to sail to Cuba (for a peace festival) and then having to change course for the Bahamas, we still could not get the winds available to bring us there. So, we went with the winds and it took us to New York City.

We stayed in NY visiting friends and making new friends and at the same time readying our Peace boat, the Beija Flor for the sail across the Atlantic. We knew we had not much time since it was the Hurricane season. Little did we know that we would be IN a hurricane!

When we left New York on August 15, we never thought we would meet with such surprise. We wanted to leave a week earlier but at the last moment there was a new passenger, a young resident of New York who wanted to live the experience of crossing the Atlantic, but needed a few days to arrange their affairs on the ground and hope that week.

So, we waited another week.

The beginning days of sailing were so quiet and peaceful that even our new crew thought that sailing was the most boring thing in the world!

But after six days when there were just over 600 route miles and 1333 more to reach the Azores, the wind began to blow in a way that was not normal, so much we asked each other…why? It didn’t take long to know that we were in trouble, and the word or even concept of a hurricane still never crossed our minds.

We began to prepare for the worst. We put on the wetsuits, harnesses and tethers since the wind was getting stronger. We decided that it would be best to have Detlef steer for an hour and then I would steer another hour, and so on until “something” ended.

“Something” was a hurricane, and we were still in denial.

The waves grew every minute like the wind … The question now was ‘for how long?’

Our other crew, which had absolutely no experience, did the best for everyone in those circumstances, it was all the time inside the boat not moving along with our beloved dog, which the poor woman was beside herself, as if she only really knew what was happening outside.

Then, big, actually huge waves came, like buildings everywhere, and our wind gauge needle maxed out on many occasions … max being 70 knots (about 140 km / h) and the actual wind speed we will never know, but we can only imagine.

To avoid falling into despair, Det and I tried to joke about the situation, can I believe what is really happening? But thinking the best because when you start to feel tired, at worst you can think about is the uncertainty of when this hell will end, and if it takes three days? or 4? or 2? …

I’m, a girl of only 50 kilos (about 100 pounds), I now hold the record of surfing a wave of over 30 meters (about 90 feet) waves coming from all directions to put our heavy boat of 33 tons moving at no less than 23 knots. A record considering that such ships normally sail at 6 knots. That’s right. The waves we encountered were over 30 meters and our boat miraculously survived as we did!

We stayed up continuously for 36 hours, almost without drinking and eating just enough to move our bowels, not because we had to think of something as natural as that and also we could not afford to go to the bathroom! Leaving the deck would have put the whole crew in danger. I personally have no hesitation in saying that I had to pee on it, because it was dangerous to go the toilet.

Do you know how many tons of water fell on us?. Or, How you can change your life in just minutes! Because a thousand times I wonder where would I be now if I had not tied to one of the “winch” the boat two minutes before the first giant wave that would fall on me and take me away into the ocean. Someone was watching over me I wonder.

We made it through the western wall of the hurricane. This part is normally the worst part of any hurricane. Then after that struggle finally comes the calm (the eye of the Hurricane). It is night, we are shivering with cold and tired, completely soaked and look for the interior of the boat, looking for a nice, dry place where we all can take a short break, but ohhhhh nooooooooo !!!!.

What we found was a devastating image. Honey, coffee, eggs … poor Tara and vomiting of our crew everywhere, and when I say everywhere, it is everywhere, like when you shake it all with a shaker. That’s reality. Keep in mind that sometimes the boat became so inclined, that the mast was only two feet or so off the water! vertigo!

Ten hours- it may have been longer to clean. Still going without rest, and when at last it seems we could break, here comes the tail of the hurricane. (the eastern wall) The biggest downpour I’ve seen in my life!, What a rain !!!… that was not so dangerous, but very uncomfortable, more so being so tired. About 8 hours of rain so hard that it was hard to open our eyes.

For the first time we begin to think “This is a hurricane” because everything pointed to that. All along, we had thought the hurricane was going on south of us, heading to the Caribbean, which is normal … We have no radar and we can only imagine.

We make it through this part and I begin three days in a calm beautiful nights on my guard duty. This forst calm night after the hurricane, I see a boat just behind us. I clearly see red light, so I do not worry at all. The boat will pass without problems on our right side.

After a few minutes the boat does not do what I expected, its much closer to us, and still behind us. What’s happening? I start to get nervous, I turn on the engine and call Det.

We decided to change directions at full speed because the boat is approaching us very fast, still seeing the red light.

It seems that we can never get away from it and suddenly two huge lights flood our boati and now it is clear they want something from us! But what?

Det turn the radio on and we hear: - “please identify your boat”… Det replies – “This is the Beija-Flor” … then the other boat starts talking again … puffffff! the radio turns off! No more battery, nooooooo! We still want to report some more and we still don’t know who they are!

We were so tired and stunned that we never turn the main radio! What fools we are!

It was when we landed, Flores, a beautiful island of the Azores, when we begin to understand this reality. We knew the name of the hurricane passed just above us. Hurricane Bill, force 4 (the maximum is 5) and to check emails, we discovered that who we spoke with that night from the boat with the red light was the United States Coast Guard. They had come to fetch us more than 800 miles from U.S. shores. First we found a special plane tracking, which gave the exact coordinates of our sailboat to the two boats that wanted to know if she had survived.

How and why did the US Coast Guard come to find us and make sure we had survived this hurricane? Had we lost our boat, we would sure have been floating in the ocean not knowing if anyone would come to rescue us.

After reading our emails we found out.

Our friend Louis Ricca, who coordinates the Peace Full Sail Euro Rock world peace program called the U.S. Coast Guard to seek us. Louis had been tracking us and the hurricane and saw that we were to cross paths with the hurricane and be in much danger, a danger we had no idea we would be in.

With a “guardian angel” so, we dare to travel to the end of the world …

Thanks friend, you always carry in our hearts.

Det & Lorena.

The crew and boat has left the Azores and will arrive in Gran Canaria LP Spain by the first week of October and should be available for interviews by the second or third week in October while they stay in Gran Canary Spain.

The program Peace Full Sail Euro Rock is a world peace and humanitarian mission founded in 2007 by musicians and producers Detlef Kowelewski and Louis Ricca with a focus on bringing the world together and showing the world that we are all one and the same human beings, despite any handicaps, political beliefs, genres of music we like, color of our skin, religious beliefs or country of origin. They survive and are funded by generous donations as well as their our own funds. Donations of any kind are always appreciated. The SWISS Organization, Saving With Instruments Samples and Soundz is the administer of any donations and can be found at: [http://www.swissorg.org] (email us) Swiss Chiris is the founder of the SWISS Org and a GRAMMY winner who has worked as Music Director and Drummer for the GRAMMY winning artist John Legend.
[http://www.swissorg.org]

External Link:
World Peace Vision

Sailor's Prayer

You might also like to listen to "The Sailor's Prayer" from the Library of Congress National Jukebox

Add your story to this page!

Comment on this Story

Add a New Comment

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License