Sailboat makes emergency stop in Lewes

Irvmiren runs into trouble off Cape May, N.J.
A crew is on hand to clean up water damage aboard the 68-foot Irvmiren. The sailboat is docked in Lewes as repairs are made. BY RON MACARTHUR
June 6, 2014

Lewes Capt. Scott Gaston is assisting in an effort to get the sailboat Irvmiren shipshape and under sail again. While a lot of work remains to be completed, it could have been much worse.

It's hard to imagine what had transpired the week before to the impressive 68-foot, blue Nautor Swan sailboat docked at the Lewes public wharf.

It was late – about 10:45 p.m. on May 25 – when the Irvmiren crew issued a distress signal. They were 25 miles off the coast of Cape May, N.J., and the boat was taking on water in the galley and engine room.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., and a 45-foot rescue ship from Coast Guard Station Cape May responded to the distress call.

For hours, the crew attempted to pump water off the boat, but their efforts were failing. A Coast Guard spokeswoman said she did not know why the sailboat was taking on water.

“The sailing vessel looked very low in the water as we got on scene,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Wise, an aviation maintenance technician aboard the rescue helicopter. “The swells were eight to 10 feet with swells breaking over the side of the Irvmiren, so the boat and mast were rocking all over the place.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory Osborne, the rescue swimmer aboard the helicopter, was lowered down to the Irvmiren. A dewatering pump was lowered from the helicopter to the deck of the rescue ship and transferred onto the sailboat, but efforts to dewater the vessel were unsuccessful. Six people aboard Irvmiren – including a young boy – were transferred onto the Coast Guard rescue ship at 2:30 a.m. May 29 and taken to the Coast Guard station in Cape May, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Cindy Oldham.

There were no injuries, Oldham said.

As the Irvmiren was towed into Lewes after the rescue, the sailboat got stuck in the middle of the canal near the public dock. Gaston said they had to wait for high tide to get the boat out of the mud. He says the draft of the boat is too deep for the canal, and the sooner it's out of the area the better.

Irvmiren left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., headed for Nantucket, Mass. Gaston said the trip will be delayed as repairs are made. He's hoping to get the boat under way in about a week.

Gaston said a professional cleaning crew is going over the boat before mechanics and electricians take a look at possible damage from the water.

Irvmiren's home port is Singapore, and most of its charters take place in the waters of Southeast Asia. The sailboat – built in 1993 and refitted in 2011 – offers four cabins for up to eight charter guests with two crew members. According to, charters are $23,000 weekly.

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