The crew of the stricken Elle aboard The Oleander. *Photo supplied
The crew of the stricken Elle aboard The Oleander. *Photo supplied

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9: The skipper of the Oleander has described how he and his crew battled high winds and huge waves to pluck four sailors from their stricken yacht.

Jacek Jurszo said he had to manoeuver the container ship continuously for 30 minutes to shelter one sailor, who had fallen in the sea, from the elements.

He told the Bermuda Sun: “It was like no other rescue I have been involved in before. When we found the yacht the weather conditions made it very hard to bring it alongside.

“As we did the mast was crashing against the ship. We were rolling from side to side because of the waves and we had to keep the thrusters on.

“One of the sailors tried to jump onto the rope ladder on the side of our ship but he fell into the water.

“For the next 30 minutes as he was in the sea we had to continuously move the ship so he was protected from the waves. We made the ship into a barrier to keep him safe.

“It was hard work and we were worried as he got more tired we would not be able to get him on board.”

The crew of the Oleander did manage to haul the sailor onto their ship after a series of failed attempts, as well as his three crew mates.

And the ship brought the four strong crew of the Elle into Hamilton on Monday morning.

Captain Jurszo added: “It was a successful operation as everyone made it home safely. But for a while out there it was pretty scary with the waves coming down on us.

“The weather was closing in and if we had not been able to get them out then it would have been a very dangerous situation.

“Every member of the Oleander crew did their bit and we were happy to be able to help.”

The yacht Elle was on her way to Bermuda as part of a rally race when she hit bad weather around 200 miles north west of Bermuda.

The Oleander received the distress call at just after 8am on Sunday before changing her course and sailing for six hours to get to the yacht.

The Oleander and her crew have been praised by the U.S. Coast Guard for the rescue operation.

A message from the Coast Guard to Bermuda Container Lines, which runs the ship, said: “These actions are to be commended and do not go unnoticed.

“Your company’s willingness to participate in the Amver system is testimony to ensuring that no call for help goes unanswered.”