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Groningen sailors rescued in Caribbean by Dutch freighter

Scholtens couple on world trip shipwrecked

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

CAYMAN BRAC - At and Dia Scholtens, a Groningen couple on a years-long voyage around the world with their sail boat Angelique, recently had to be rescued from their sinking vessel. They were sailing towards the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. The Scholtens were plucked from the ‘Angelique’ by the crew of a passing freighter, coincidentally owned by a shipping company based in their home province in the Netherlands.

In their early sixties, the Scholtens had departed on their voyage in 2004 and were sailing in the Caribbean in their 43-foot, two-mast sailing boat. En route to Little Cayman from Cayo Largo, Cuba, problems developed, when the propeller shaft broke and water gushed in. Unable to plug the hole, the Scholtens radioed a SOS call indicating that the ‘Angelique’ was sinking rapidly.

A Lloyds of London Shipping Agent picked up the mayday signal and talked to Scholtens who was standing in a metre of water. The agent immediately notified the Cayman Brac Fire Service to dispatch their rescue craft. A Customs vessel also was dispatched. Ships in the area were notified and a response was received from a container ship, the UAL Angola, en route from Houston, Texas, to the African country of Angola.

The ‘Angola’ reached the ‘Angelique’ within half an hour of the time that the mayday signal was received. The Scholtens were taken on board the freighter. The original plan had been to tow the sinking vessel to Cayman Brac. Crewmembers of the UAL Angola were unable to stem the gushing water despite bringing onboard two heavy-duty pumps. An hour after the rescue of the Scholtens, the ‘Angelique’ sank while in tow.

The Scholtens remained on the ‘Angola’ for its regular stop in Point a Pierre, Trinidad, where they were able to book airline passage back to the Netherlands. Unwilling to give up on their world voyage, the Scholtens have plans to return to the Caribbean this year still, likely to supervise any salvage attempts of their ‘Angelique’.

Although the rescue itself already was spectacular, the fact that both the sailboat and the UAL Angola have strong Groningen ties, added another dimension to the story. Owned by shipping company Rederij Feederline BV Groningen, the Angola is registered in Cyprus and chartered to a local company. The ship, which was built in China in 2000, earlier was named the ‘Damsterdiep,’ after a canal that connects the city of Groningen with the port of Delfzijl. The Scholtens had lived on that canal for years.