A British family of five arrived in the Panamanian port of Balbos, exhausted but in good health on Tuesday (July 25) after thirty-seven days adrift in the South Pacific.
A British family of five arrived in the Panamanian port of Balbos, exhausted but in good health on Tuesday (July 25) after thirty-seven days adrift in the South Pacific. Their round-the-world 39-foot schooner had been attacked and sunk by a school of killer shales. They were due to be flown back to England by the British Consulate in Panama.
The family (48-year-old Staffordshire farmer Dougal Robertson, his wife Linda, aged 44; their sons douglas, 18, and 12-year-old twins Neil and Sandy) were travelling on a three-year voyage around the world in their 48-year-old schooner 'Lucette'. With them was crew-member Robin Willams, aged 22, who was hitching a ride to New Zealand. They set sail from Falmouth, England, in January 1971 -- after investing their life savings in the boat, which they bought in Malta.
The Lucette sank on June 15 about 210 miles (336 kilometres) off the Galapagos Islands, while sailing west from South America towards the French Marquesas islands, on route for Australia. After being sunk by the whales -- some longer than the schooner -- the Robertsons drifted in their ten-foot (3 metres) long fibre-glass lifeboat until rescued by the japanese fishing vessel, Toka Maru. the crew had first thought the tiny dinghy to be empty, then spotted one of the castaways' last flares.
The Robertson's ordeal was magnified by a lack of food and water -- the whale attack and subsequent sinking came so swiftly they had no time to throw many provisions or much drinking water into the lifeboat. During their days adrift, they lived off the sea, catching small sharks dolphins and turtles.
This film, which shows the family on board their rescue vessel with their Japanese rescuers around them, is a telerecording off a satellite transmission from Panama.