Norwegian yacht goes missing off Antarctica

A yachat carrying five passengers has gone missing off the coast of AntarcticaA Norwegian-flagged yacht known as the Berserk has gone missing off the coast of Antarctica after activating its emergency rescue beacon yesterday. The 14-meter, steel hulled ship was last known to be sailing rough seas in the Southern Ocean approximately 18 nautical miles north of the Scott Research Base and was believed to have been carrying as many as five passengers at the time.

Rescues ships have been dispatched out of New Zealand to look for the missing yacht, but all attempts to contact the crew have failed and the emergency beacon is no longer transmitting its location. Bad weather in the region is hampering rescue efforts as well, with 75 knot winds and 6 to 8 meter swells reported in the vicinity.

The ship is captained by Norwegian sailor Jarle Andhoey who is a seasoned skipper with years of experience under his belt. There were three other Norwegians and a British national on board the Berserk at one point, although two of the passengers may have been dropped off on the Antarctic continent to attempt a journey to the South Pole. Details as to who was exactly aboard the ship at the time of the distress call are still unknown.

Weather conditions are expected to improve later in the day and search planes and helicopters may be employed to help find the missing the vessel. Rescuers are still holding out hope for good news, but considering the poor weather conditions and the loss of the signal from the ship’s beacon, the outlook is a bit grim at this time.

[Photo credit: Berserk Expeditions]

Mother hippo rescues a baby wildebeest in Kenya – African wildlife

African wildlife - Mother hippo rescues a baby wildebeest in KenyaSometimes, strange and wonderful things happen within the world of African wildlife. A few weeks ago at Sanctuary Olonana, a luxury camp in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Mother Nature looked the other way while the nature of a mother hippo took over.

An infant wildebeest accidentally ended up in the middle of the Mara River, helpless and gangly and unable to swim. The calf had been crossing the river with its own mother (as part of the wildebeest migration, one of the natural wonders of the world), but was swept away by the strong current. The little guy wasn’t doing too well and a crocodile began to circle.


A nearby female hippo caught sight of the struggling calf and nearby croc, and swam to his rescue. Guests watched anxiously for an intense fifteen minutes as she gently pushed the baby wildebeest to the shore where his mother was waiting — a heroic and noble act by a notably aggressive animal. There’s no actual proof that she’s a mother hippo, but with maternal instincts like that, which stretched even beyond her species, I’m guessing that either she is, or she’s going to be.

These touching photos were taken by the Sanctuary Olonana camp manager, who watched along with the guests and staff of the camp. I can only imagine the cheering when the baby wildebeest was finally brought to safety.

A zebra trots down to watch the action:
African wildlife - Mother hippo rescues a baby wildebeest in Kenya

The hippo gently nudges the infant wildebeest out of the water:
African wildlife - Mother hippo rescues a baby wildebeest in Kenya

[Photos courtesy of Sanctuary Retreats.]

Coast Guard rescues unwitting drunk man one mile offshore, drifting on pool floatie


You heard right: The United States Coast Guard yesterday rescued a Florida man who got drunk, climbed into an inflatable swimming pool ring (the kind little kids use), passed out, and then drifted a mile offshore from Belleair Beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Fortunately, a concerned boater spotted what he thought was debris and came for a closer look, then called the Coast Guard to report what he thought was a dead body. Despite boat horns and loud shouting, the intoxicated man did not respond. Jerry Whipple, age 48, was both dazed and confused as the Coast Guard rescued him and transported him back to the nearest hospital for a closer look.

Mr. Whipple was later released, although he might still be charged with operating a seafaring craft while under the influence. That’s one small step for the Coast Guard . . . and one mile-wide leap for Florida.

Rescue ships reach Abby Sunderland

A French fishing ship reached 16-year old American Abby Sunderland in the Indian Ocean earlier today, bringing a sigh of relief to her friends and family back home in California, who have been waiting for news on her rescue for the past two days. The girl, who had been attempting to sail solo around the world, was feared lost at sea on Thursday when contact with her home team was disrupted during a major storm. Later she would set off two emergency locator beacons, and on Friday, an Australian commercial aircraft few over her position, confirming that she was alive and well, but adrift in the frigid ocean waters.

Abby’s remote location in the Indian Ocean made it difficult to make a quick recovery. She was more than 2000 miles from both Africa and Australia, which made the use of a helicopter impossible. The French ship was the closest to her position, but was still 40 hours away when she ran into trouble.

As of this morning, the decision was still being made as to where to take the teenager. The ship could sail for Reunion Island, which is the closest land, but is in the middle of the Indian Ocean and quite remote in its own right. Or they could make a course for Australia, where Abby will have more resources at her disposal for getting home or repairing her own vessel. The fishing boat may even rendezvous with another ship, which could start a relay of sorts delivering the girl to safety.

Also unknown as this time is whether or not Abby will continue her attempt to sail around the world. Her boat, the Wild Eyes, has suffered a broken mast, and her sails are in tatters, with further damage a possibility. The Wild Eyes will have to be towed into port for repairs before she can go anywhere again, which will require time and money. For the near term anyway, Abby will be able to think carefully on what her next move is.

[Photo credit: Al Seib / L.A. Times]

Two climbers missing, one dead on Mt. Hood

It was a long and tragic weekend on Oregon’s Mt. Hood, where search and rescue teams combed the area searching for three missing climbers. That search turned tragic on Saturday when one of the climbers was found dead high on the mountain, while his two companions remain missing as of this writing.

On Friday, 26-year old Luke T. Gullberg, Kattie Nolan, 29, and Anthony Vietti, 24, set off to climb the 11,249 foot Mt. Hood, which is a popular mountaineering destination in all seasons, although obviously more challenging in the winter months, when deep snow and unpredictable weather can cause all kinds of problems. The three climbers were due back at 2 PM that afternoon, but when they didn’t arrive by Saturday, the search teams went into action.

Gulberg’s body was discovered on the Reid Glacier at about 9000 feet, along with some climbing gear, but no trace of Nolan or Vietti was discovered. The recovery team said they found a digital camera in Gulberg’s pack, which gave clues to the location of the missing climbers, but due to bad weather, heavy snow, and avalanche conditions, finding them won’t be an easy task. That task will be made all the more difficult by an incomplete climbing registration form and conflicting reports on the route they were taking to the summit.

The search is expected to continue today, with a National Guard and Coast Guard helicopter reporting to the area. The Coast Guard aircraft comes equipped with thermal imaging that should prove helpful to SAR teams, despite the adverse weather conditions. Search teams remain hopeful that Nolan and Vietti will still be found alive.