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OAR Northwest Capsize and Rescue

by Kurt Hoehne

I’ve had the good fortune to write about the Oar Northwest team a few times, and they’re an impressive group. While yesterday’s capsize was devastating, it’s clear their experience and preparation led to their rescue. It’s also clear it’s not their last adventure. First is a statement from team member Greg Spooner, made after the capsize but before the rescue. Following that are links to Three Sheets Northwest and ABC News reports. I’ll be interviewing Greg, Jordan and the group in the coming weeks and report back in the pages of Northwest Yachting on the details, such as why their boat didn’t self-right as designed. –KH


Statement from OAR Northwesterinnjhale-oarnw-dakar-3714-490x326

Seattle, WA (4/6/13) – At 3:50am Pacific Daylight Time this morning I received a phone call from the United States Coast Guard station in San Juan, Puerto Rico, indicating that a distress signal was activated on board the ocean rowboat, “James Robert Hanssen”. The boat and its crew were 73 days into a trans-Atlantic rowing expedition between Dakar, Senegal and Miami, Florida, to study the health of the Atlantic and inspire kids to make their dreams a reality.

The signal from a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) attached to a life jacket was activated approximately 400 miles north of Puerto Rico.

A Coast Guard C-130 airplane was deployed and made visual and radio contact with the overturned boat and life raft. The ocean rowboat suffered a catastrophic capsize event, unable to self-right as designed.

The four rowers were able to safely deploy their life raft and are awaiting rescue by a passing commercial vessel. Many years of preparation and training went into the trans-Atlantic ocean row to mitigate the risks involved. Unfortunately careful planning cannot make an important expedition like this 100% safe.

We are extremely grateful for the services of the United States Coast Guard, and all other agencies involved in the successful location and rescue of the four rowers. They put their lives at risk to save ours.

More information to follow as it becomes available.

Greg Spooner
OAR Northwest – Mission Control
Seattle, WA


Deborah Bach’s report in Three Sheets Northwest here.

ABC News coverage here.

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