From daring Mid-Atlantic rescues to ghost ships and Colin Firth's latest maritime adventure, here are the top news stories from YBW in 2017


Mid-Atlantic rescue caught on camera

The Coombe's family is rescued after abandoning Dove II

The crew of the Tilly Mint help rescue the Coombes family

Top of the news stories for January – a video of a mid Atlantic rescue was released showing the daring rescue after a family got into trouble just weeks into their round the world voyage.

The footage shows the crew of the Tilly Mint, who answered a mayday call from the from the Coombes family on board Dove II, being rescued.

Dove II had suffered rudder failure during heavy weather in the mid-Atlantic and the Coombes family were forced to abandon ship. The family are offering a $10,000 reward for the safe recovery of the yacht.

Dove II was last seen 460 nautical miles due east of Antigua in the Caribbean.

Read: Mid-Atlantic rescue caught on camera



Royal Navy sailor receives Queen’s Gallantry Medal after saving 14 in Clyde Challenger rescue

Sally Hughes receives Queen's Gallantry Medal

Royal Navy sailor Sally Hughes was recently awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal after helping to rescue 14 people on board Clyde Challenger.

Disaster struck the former Clipper yacht Clyde Challenger when the boat was dismasted and lost its rudder around 400 nautical miles west-south-west of Cape Finisterre.

Royal Navy sailor Hughes skippered an inflatable boat to transfer the crew on board Clyde Challenger to HMS Dragon. The rescue took several attempts and lasted over two hours.

Read: Royal Navy Sailor receives medal after saving 14



Two yachts sink after storm in Port d’Andratx, Mallorca

A superyacht sinking after a storm at Port d'Andratx, Mallorca

Credit: You Tube

Two luxury yachts sunk after March storms battered the island of Mallorca.

A video shows the 34m superyacht Paradise partly submerged in Port d’Andratx following strong gales and large swells. Another unnamed yacht also sunk following the bad weather.

Read: Two yachts sink in Port d’Andratx



Four people die after Bavaria yacht wrecked in Rimini

A boat shipwrecked on rocks at Rimini, Italy

The wrecked yacht. Credit: You Tube

Tragedy struck in April when four people died and two more were injured when a Bavaria yacht was wrecked on the breakwater in Rimini, Italy, in winds gusting 40 knots.

The Bavaria 50 Cruiser, called Dipiù, suffered engine difficulties and grounded on the breakwater in stormy weather, lost its keel, and then capsized and dismasted.

In July, investigators looking into the fatal shipwrecking cleared the two survivors of any blame for the incident.

Read: Four people dead after Bavaria yacht wrecked in Rimini



Body found on yacht drifting off Grenada

An aerial view of Grenada showing yachts in the harbour

The capital of Grenada, St George’s. Credit: Julien Mitchell/Wikimedia Commons

The decomposing body of a German sailor was discovered on board the 40ft yacht Vamp in May.

The eerie story caught the headlines when the vessel was found drifting seven miles off the coast of the Caribbean island. The body is believed to be German national, Bernd Ludwig Ottogottel.

Interpol was involved in tracking the yacht and an investigation was launched into the cause of death.

Read: Body found on yacht drifting off Grenada



Cheeki Rafiki manslaughter trial begins

Cheeki Rafiki

The tragic story of Cheeki Rafiki dominated the news in the summer as Douglas Innes, the director of Stormforce Coaching Limited, went on trial for the manslaughter of four sailors who died when Cheeki Rafiki capsized in the North Atlantic in May 2014.

The 40ft yacht was managed by the Southampton based company and was returning to Southampton following the Antigua Sailing Week when tragedy struck.

Innes, 42, pled not guilty to four counts of manslaughter by gross negligence and also pleaded not guilty to failing to ensure the yacht was operated in a safe manner in accordance with section 100 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

Read: Cheeki Rafiki manslaughter trial begins



Verdict in Cheeki Rafiki trial

The four men who died when the Cheeki Rafiki capsized in the mid Atlantic in May 2014

Paul Goslin, James Male, Steve Warren and Andrew Bridge. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

In July, Douglas Innes was convicted of failing to ensure the safety of the yacht Cheeki Rafiki but the jury failed to reach a verdict on the four charges of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Andrew Bridge, 22, James Male, 22, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56 all lost their lives when Cheeki Rafiki lost its keel and capsized more than 700 miles from Nova Scotia in Canada on 16 May 2014. Their bodies have never been found.

Prosecutors are seeking a re-trial on the manslaughter charges.

Read: Verdict in Cheeki Rafiki trial


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New VHF channel numbers for UK Coastguard announced

What is VHF?

Changes to the VHF channel numbers to contact the UK Coastguard for marine safety and radio medical advice were confirmed in August.

From 6 September 2017 the channels changed to VHF 62, 63 and 64.

Read: New VHF channel numbers for UK Coastguard announced



Hurricane Irma batters Caribbean and Florida

Boats destroyed by Hurricane Irma

Nanny Cay Boat Yard in Tortola following Hurricane Irma. Credit: You Tube

The world witnessed the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma when the category five hurricane – the most powerful storm to hit the Atlantic in a decade – destroyed yachts, buildings and caused major flooding to some islands in the Caribbean.

Aerial footage shows the wreckage in harbours and boat yards across the BVIs and other islands.

In the wake of the devastation, members of the marine community united to form Sail Aid UK. Sir Ben and Lady Georgie Ainslie, Ian Walker, Shirley Robertson, Sam Davies, Andy Beadsworth and Helena Lucas pledged their support for fundraising initiatives in aid of the victims of Hurricane Irma.

Read: Hurricane Irma batters Caribbean and Florida



Colin Firth stars in Donald Crowhurst biopic

Colin Firth Mercy film

The much-anticipated film, The Mercy, which stars Colin Firth as Donald Crowhurst will be released in February 2018.

The film retells the story of Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated Golden Globe Race and will also star Rachel Weisz as Crowhurst’s wife, Clare. The trailer was released in November 2017 while the film will be released in February 2018 ahead of the 50th Anniversary Golden Globe Race which starts in June.

Read: Colin Firth stars in Donald Crowhurst biopic



Women rescued by US Navy claim they were never lost

Jennifer Appel shakes USS Ashland (LSD 48) Command Master Chief Gary Wise's hand

Photo by MC3 Jonathan Clay/U.S. Navy/UPI.

Two women rescued 900 miles south-east of Japan claimed they were never lost at sea and in fact knew where they were the whole time.

The plot thickened as the sailors also claimed the Tawainese trawler that spotted them was trying to kill them rather than rescue them.

Read: Women rescued by US Navy claim they were never lost



Husband of missing sailor pleads guilty to smuggling £80,000 worth of rare coins

A catamaran sinking in blue water. No one has seen Isabella Hellmann since the sinking

Surf into Summer is visible just below the surface. Credit: US Coast Guard

Lewis Bennett, whose wife Isabella Hellmann disappeared when their catamaran capsized near the Bahamas, has pleaded guilty to charges of theft and faces 10 years in prison.

Lewis Bennett, 40,  was accused of stealing 617 coins from St Maarten-based Kitty R, a ship he was working on as first officer.

Read: Husband of missing sailor pleads guilty to smuggling £80,000 worth of rare coins