High seas drama for tall ship

Barry Nelson (right) owner of the Black Diamond and Skipper Calvyn Whitehand
Barry Nelson (right) owner of the Black Diamond and Skipper Calvyn Whitehand

A TALL ship’s crew became high seas heroes in the Atlantic.

The Black Diamond of Durham, a class C ship from Hartlepool, was on its way from La Coruna, in northern Spain, to Dublin, in Ireland, when it spotted the 34ft yacht Quest 120 miles off the coast of Brest.

The single-handed yacht, skippered by Chris Laycock from Yorkshire, had rolled over in storm force winds just north of Cape Finesterre, off the coast of Spain, while making passage to the Canary Islands.

Black Diamond owner Barry Nelson said Mr Laycock, was “waving his arms” and The Quest had lost all electrics including engine power.

It had drifted for three days.

Mr Nelson said: “Its window was smashed, sea water had flooded into the saloon, and he had lost all his spinnaker poles.”

He said the Quest’s anchor and dinghy were lost and its masthead, both radios, spray hood and self-steering system were destroyed.

Mr Nelson added: “The swell was too big for us to go alongside Quest, so we inflated our dinghy and put on board a new battery, tools and electrical testing equipment.”

He said Black Diamond’s skipper, Calvyn Whitehand, from Hartlepool, took the dinghy to Quest and transferred the equipment.

“We fitted a new battery and managed to start his engine,” said Mr Nelson. We asked Chris if he would like some food rations and he gladly took fresh bread, some tinned and packet food along with fresh water.

“We offered him a hot meal but he said his paraffin cooker was working okay.”

Mr Nelson said Mr Laycock was now safe in Brest and very grateful for the crew of Black Diamond after the incident which happened at around 12pm last Sunday.

A spokesman for the Humber Coastguard confirmed the incident happened and that Mr Laycock was fine and still in Brest and intends to carry on his journey to the Canary Islands.