Nova Scotia

Liana's Ransom captain recounts rescue near Gloucester, Mass.

The captain of a disabled Canadian tall ship rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard 93 kilometres east of Gloucester, Mass., early Tuesday says a combination of problems and errors led to the call for help.

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The U.S. Coast Guard rescued nine people from Liana's Ransom, a disabled tall ship, 100 kilometres off the shore of Gloucester, Mass. 0:38

The captain of Liana's Ransom, a disabled Canadian tall ship rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard 93 kilometres east of Gloucester, Mass., early Tuesday, says a combination of problems and errors led to the call for help.

Co-owner and captain Ryan Tilley said the ship lost service from the port engine about 12 hours after leaving Nova Scotia bound for the Caribbean.

The starboard engine then developed problems and needed topping up with oil every hour or so.

Tilley said they quickly began to run out of oil while still hundreds of kilometres from the nearest safe port.

That's when the decision was made to try sail power, he said, but it wasn't long before both the foresail and headsail ripped. Then the main sheet snapped in the wind and the boom tangled up their mainsail, he said.

When the generator malfunctioned, Tilley said, it was time to call for help.

The Boston command centre was notified at about 12:35 a.m. that the engines on the Liana's Ransom went out, and its sails were wrapped around the mast.

"It was a serious incident. There were nine people on board [and] the weather wasn't the greatest," said Petty Officer First Class Rick Bowen. 

"The boat wasn't riding the best and people were sea sick, so I think we definitely stopped the situation from worsening."

Bowen piloted one of the two 14-metre rescue boats sent through two-metre seas and nearly 40 km/h wind. 

"We were definitely bobbing around pretty good. It was sitting beam-to; the waves were hitting it on its side, which was causing the boat to rock back and forth pretty violently," he added.

"It wasn't riding with its bow or the front of the boat into the seas. It was sitting sideways to the seas and the wind."

As the weather worsened, the two coast guard lifeboats tried to tow the vessel back, but rough sea conditions caused a tow line to break.

The lifeboat crews instructed the crew of the Halifax-based ship to don immersion suits and prepare to abandon ship. Nine people were transferred to the lifeboats.

A man leaps from the Canadian tall ship the Liana's Ransom during the rescue by the U.S. Coast Guard, east of Gloucester, Mass. (U.S. Coast Guard)
One man who had leapt from the Ransom to the coast guard vessel suffered a concussion and was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital by helicopter, but he has been discharged.

The remaining eight crew members were brought back to Gloucester.

Power failure blamed

Joseph Tilley, co-owner of the ship with his son Ryan, said Tuesday that his son had sailed out of Nova Scotia on Friday evening bound for the Caribbean.

"En route, she suffered a full power failure," Joseph Tilley wrote on the ship's Facebook page

"My thanks to the professionalism and prompt response of the U.S. Coast Guard, who had been monitoring the situation for some time," he wrote.

"Captain Ryan Tilley made the right call in the best interests of his crew, and as a father I am very proud of the way he and his crew handled the situation."

The captain closed the water-tight doors and hatches, and got the crew off the ship before leaving himself, Tilley said. 

Ship dismasted in 2014

Ryan Tilley said the coast guard has since found the ship.

"The last I saw of her yesterday, as the coast guard was driving us away, was her drifting off into the waves in pretty bad shape," he said. "But I've been in contact with the coast guard and they are back with the ship and they are going to stick around until a tow company can get out to bring her in."

The next step is to repair the vessel and resume the trip to the Caribbean.

In December, the ship had been dismasted off the coast of Cape Sable Island.

The ship's Facebook page details the repair work after that misadventure. 

On March 27, the page says the ship left the Meteghan River in Nova Scotia, bound for St. Maarten, Dutch West Indies.

An unidentified man stands with a rescuer from the U.S. Coast Guard after the nine crew of the Liana's Ransom were saved. (U.S. Coast Guard)
Liana's Ransom, an 26-metre gaff-rigged, topsail schooner, sails past the Imperial Oil Dartmouth refinery in 2007. (Canadian Press)

With files from The Canadian Press


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