EXCLUSIVE: Female sailor, 34, endures terrifying ordeal after her boat caught on FIRE and nearly sank leaving her stranded with a bacterial infection – and nothing to eat but rotting food
- Caroline Kneitz, 34, was helping to crew a boat from Kenya to Dubai
- But she said the sailing trip turned out to be a nightmare with a broken wheel
- Her and her crewmates had to be towed to safety, with the rescue costing $6K
A sailor has opened up about the terrifying moment she was left stranded off the coast of Yemen – before being rescued by a group of fishermen in a desperate mission that took 22 hours.
Caroline Kneitz, 34, told DailyMail.com that she was helping to crew a boat from Kenya to Dubai when things started to go wrong and it was ‘like a scene from The Perfect Storm.’
While Caroline and her three sailing companions who were aboard the 12-meter vessel – named Freya – were most fearful of a pirate attack before setting off, it was malfunctioning parts and bad weather that ended up wreaking havoc on their journey 12 days in.
Recounting the chain of events, Caroline said: ‘It turned out to be a sailing trip from hell! The weather was like a filmset of The Perfect Storm or Armageddon.
‘The boat just started breaking apart every day… first the rigging went, then the engine, then we had a fire, flooding and lastly we lost our steering.
A sailor has revealed her terror after getting stranded off the coast of Yemen due to a broken steering wheel, with a 22-hour rescue mission ensuing
Caroline Kneitz , 34, told DailyMail.com that she was helping to crew a boat from Kenya to Dubai when things started to go wrong and it was ‘like a scene from The Perfect Storm’
While Caroline and her three sailing companions aboard Freya were most fearful of a pirate attack before setting off, it was malfunctioning parts that eventually halted their journey
Caroline told DailyMail.com: ‘Socotra as a place isn’t on the traditional tourism map but the nature is simply breathtaking’
A post shared by Dacey Calisura (@redcalifornia)
‘Five-meter waves and strong winds plus a current that dragged our boat like it was a toy!
‘To make matters worse, our fridge had also stopped working so the food was starting to rot and we were getting salt rashes and I developed a bacterial skin infection on my leg.’
Dubai-based Dacey Calisura, who purchased the boat with partner Jethro Friggens in Kenya, revealed she was equally as terrified when they could no longer control their vessel.
She told the Khaleej Times: ‘I could hear the wind howling and the waves crashing, and I was really scared whether I would be alive to hear it the next day.
‘Without the steering wheel, we were at the mercy of the sea.
‘There was an emergency steering system but that will not work if the wind and the waves are against us, which it was that day.’
When the boat broke down Caroline, Dacey, Jethro and their other crewmate, Euan Jarvis, sent out a mayday signal to the coastguards.
At the time, they were about 50 miles from Socotra, an island in Yemen sandwiched between Somalia.
The sailing crew, who are all based out of Dubai, quickly realized that the only vessels in that stretch of water were oil tankers and cargo ships, which were too cumbersome to aid a rescue.
They did discover that there was a Korean navy ship in the area, but it was about a day away and they would have had to have abandoned their boat and leave it to sink.
Caroline said if they took this option, they ‘probably wouldn’t have survived as the boat would have been left to drift for 12 hours in some serious weather.’
‘We didn’t have that kind of time left,’ she explained.
In the end, a team of fishermen from Socotra agreed to launch a rescue and tow Freya back.
Continuing the story from there, Caroline said: ‘Luckily the dhow fishing boat showed up at 1am.
‘We fired several flares up to signal where we were and we were so surprised that they found us.
Dubai-based Dacey Calisura, who purchased the boat with partner Jethro Friggens in Kenya, revealed she was equally as terrified when they could no longer control their vessel
When the boat broke down Caroline, Dacey, Jethro and their other crewmate, Euan Jarvis, sent out a mayday signal to the coastguards
The sailors were trying to sail from Kenya to Dubai. From left, Euan Jarvis, Jethro Friggens, Caroline Kneitz, one of the Yemeni rescuers, and Dacey Calisura
When they got to Socotra, Caroline said they received a very warm welcome from the locals and they were made to feel like mini celebrities
Now back in Dubai, Caroline recalled: ‘Yemen was amazing! The people were so warm and kind and also very generous. We were even invited for a local wedding celebration’
‘The towing began and we fixed two lines from their stern to our bow and were towed for something like 22 hours.
‘That in itself was a horrendous experience because we were being thrown around and could hear how the boat was falling apart.
‘Lots of the guard rails broke off. It wasn’t a pretty sight. But we made it back to land on July 28.’
The perilous rescue cost the Freya sailing team $5,000 in total and then they also had to go about finding accommodation on Socotra and arranging their flights home from there to Dubai.
‘All of these were costs we hadn’t accounted for but to be honest, we were lucky to be alive!’ Caroline said.
When they got to Socotra, Caroline said they received a very warm welcome from the locals and they were made to feel like mini celebrities.
Now back in Dubai, the sailing expert recalled: ‘Yemen was amazing! The people were so warm and kind and also very generous.
‘We were welcomed with open arms and even invited for a local wedding celebration.
‘Socotra as a place isn’t on the traditional tourism map but the nature is simply breathtaking.
‘Of course it is not a place where you will find luxury, life is very basic and many supplies are very limited.
‘But despite the simplicity and lack of wealth, everyone is happy – the communities are very strong and that is so beautiful to see.’
Dacey and Jethro plan to take their boat Freya to Oman for some advanced repair work before sailing her back to Dubai in September.
Caroline says the sailing ordeal has taught her to ‘take much greater precaution regarding traveling in season.’
She concluded: ‘I felt very reassured knowing that I had very experienced crew with me but the weather was just too much that even the boat said “no, I’m not doing this.”‘
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