To read some mainstream media, you’d think that megayachts do nothing but destroy the environment, cruising around with narcissistic owners. Tabloids will be tabloids, of course. But, that doesn’t mean the rest of us should simply ignore them. In fact, from owners and crews who regularly support non-profits like YachtAid Global and the International SeaKeepers Society to those who just do what those at sea are supposed to do, there are abundant examples of good in the yachting world. These four stories of superyacht rescues at sea should help counteract the narrative. More stories exist, too, but the crews and owners have chosen to remain out of the spotlight, for their own reasons.
Victorious Rescues Capsized Sailors
At the very start of 2023, we learned about the yacht Victorious rescuing five sailors from a capsized catamaran. The 279-foot (85-meter) Victorious was en route to Saint Martin when the crew heard a distress call on the VHF. A 49-foot (15-meter) catamaran had capsized far from shore, injuries some of the five people aboard. Capt. Petar Milkov instructed his crew to begin search-and-rescue operations. Dark nighttime skies and being hundreds of miles from shore themselves meant nothing; they spent 16 hours searching. When Victorious found the sailors (above), the crew brought them all aboard, alive, and treated their injuries, which included broken ribs. The yacht transported the sailors to Saint Martin and handed them over to medical personnel. Emily Grassby, Victorious’ chef officer, said the rescue had a profound positive impact on her. She also wrote on social media, “In all honesty, we did our duty, nothing special.” She further wrote, “I like to think all mariners would do the same.”
Mayan Queen IV Rescues 100+ Migrants
The international migrant crisis has led to not just commercial rescues, but also superyacht rescues at sea. In June, Mayan Queen IV was one of a few vessels coming to the aid of a far-overloaded fishing vessel that sank about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Pylos in southern Greece. The 305-footer (93-meter) saved at least 106 migrants who had been on that vessel. Authorities indicate that the fishing boat, between 65 and 100 feet (20 and 30 meters) long, had four to seven times that number of migrants aboard. The owners and crew of Mayan Queen IV didn’t release statements in response to media inquiries. Regardless, photos from the Associated Press showed the yacht dockside in Greece with blanket-clad migrants descending her passerelle.
Genevieve Saves 16 Migrants in Harrowing Conditions
Superyacht rescues at sea don’t get much more dramatic than this. The sailing yacht Genevieve spent two hours searching for and rescuing 16 Cameroonian migrants. Remarkably, the 121-foot (37-meter) sailing superyacht initiated the rescue because the crewmember on lookout duty heard a faint sound. When the crewmember described it to the captain as being reminiscent of a woman screaming, Genevieve headed toward it. After getting her aboard, then finding a man several hundred feet away, they learned the migrants were among 32 who had been aboard a fishing boat smuggling them from Antigua to St. Thomas. The boat had capsized just off St. Kitts. Most of the migrants were wearing all the clothes they owned, layers upon layers, and only two had PFDs. Adding to the difficult rescue were 20-knot winds and six-foot (two-meter) seas, plus water splashing into Genevieve’s lazarette. Despite exhaustion and trauma, all 16 survived.
Superyacht W Rescues Sailor Stranded for Days
A 29-year-old Spaniard suffering from severe sunburn and other injuries received aid from the crew of the motoryacht W in June. The 189-footer (58-meter) came across him off the coast of Malaga, Spain by sheer luck. The crew saw what they initially thought was simple debris. However, they realized it was actually a person’s hand waving at them. Quickly, they realized the person wore a black wetsuit, hard enough to discern. Harder still, the person was in a similarly black ring, like a pool float, Once the crew hauled him out with their arms, they learned he’d been floating for five days. Since he was weak and not all that lucid, the crew of W contacted medical personnel. An airlift took him to a hospital once the yacht reached shore.