FROM DR. STEIN HOFF AFTER HIS RESCUE AT SEA:
“Tonight, Wednesday 10th August, it is four days since I was rescued and felt reborn, hauled up from my tossing “Fox II”. Many times I thought that cabin was to become my coffin as the boat was knocked-down and rolled over numerous times. The longest knock-downs were the worst. I managed to film one lying to starboard side for more than 7 minutes, so I have proof. I thought it was at least one minute thinking back, but it was actually more than seven. The last knock-down I did not get the camera in time and was about as long, held over by wind, I suppose, and this time practically at 180 degrees with water straight across the hatch repeatedly.
I was seriously doubting if we would ever rise, thinking water had come in somewhere and stopped the self-writing ability, so I was talking to and taking farewell with my dearest. I really thought it was the end.
It was about 11 long hours from activating my EPIRB (emergency beacon) until the ship was near me. I had also activated digital VHF emergency signal at the same time, not knowing that the VHF antenna was broken. I dared not use the iPad and check mail via the Yellow Brick tracker until 2 hours later due to the frequent rolls and knock down that could damage it, and only then could I confirm that I had a real emergency. From then it took 9 hours.
My boat was thrown around and about so violently a couple of times so that it pounded into the sea with loud thumping noise and vibration. I thought it might split. But it did not. Staying inside and not trying to launch the life-raft I am sure saved me as the conditions improved after a few hours. By then there was tremendous damage to my equipment. All oars cracked and floppy, one broke completely and was washed away.
But here I am, on M/V Ludolf Oldendorff, a 300 m long bulk carrier, enjoying superb hospitality and friendship, as much food as I can eat – only today am I slowing down eating a little – can come and go wherever on the ship – within the rules, obviously. I have my own cabin with a bed that does not move, wash basin and shower with warm water, toilet you can flush with a button! (I wonder how many times before I stop thinking it is a miracle?!)
I have had tour of the enormous engine room, it reminded me of the inside of a cathedral (thank you Yuri!) and the hospital, a bit more modest with 2 beds, but an impressive stock of equipment and medicines (thank you Aurelian!), spent time on the Bridge marveling at all the gadgets and electronics and I have got to know almost all the 21 men aboard this ship.
Especially “Misha” (Mykaylo) Myrza from Ukraine, Second Officer, who with Captain Edi Cherim (from Romania) up at the bridge, led the difficult rescue from deck level, 18 m above the sea. Maneuvring the unloaded ship (in ballast) in 6 m waves in order to get close to and shelter me was not easy. Twice I drifted away too fast. Reversing upwind past me eventually did the trick. The rudder, the huge, four-bladed propeller and six cylinder engine were really put to the test as much as the people. But after about 1hour 40 minutes since first arriving, I was standing/staggering safely on deck!
The ship was built only last year, in 2015 in South Korea. It is on its 10th voyage this year. We are now returning to Sept Isles, East Canada for more iron ore pellets. The last 288.000 tons were delivered in Rotterdam recently.
Diana is soon also on her way to Sept Isles. We anchor there 14th, but she may not be able to get out to meet me and my rescuers as the berthing date is not fixed. Return flights go first to England 18th. After seeing my daughter Elisabeth with husband Hugh and sons Finn and Soren, we carry on to Isles of Scilly to finish the planned journey.
Not by rowing “Fox II” there as I had hoped for years, I am sorry to say, but to finish my business of honouring Harbo & Samuelsen. And that includes bringing a special capsule and a little book with me. It is a sort of pilgrimage, I suppose. But Isles of Scilly is also a charming and fascinating place. After that I can return to more normal life again in Norway.
Soon I will be able to start reading your greetings and comments and start posting pictures to illustrate good – and not so good – aspects of rowing the North Atlantic alone!