World’s largest ocean-going wooden sailing ship rescues sailboat

Götheborg of Sweden rescue Credit David Moeneclaey

Two sailors who started drifting after losing their rudder have told of their surreal experience when a replica 18th-century merchant ship arrived to rescue them off the coast of France. 

The largest ocean-going wooden sailing ship in the world, Götheborg of Sweden, was heading for its upcoming port stop in Jersey when it received a distress call from the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres) about a small sailing boat that was drifting after losing its rudder. 

As the closest ship to the boat in distress, the 58-metre Götheborg answered the call and towed the sailing boat during the night of 26 April 2023.

Götheborg of Sweden rescue credit David Moeneclaey (8)

The two sailors on the Corto, the sailing vessel that was rescued, have now recounted the tale in their own words.

The duo had left Cherbourg and set sail for Camaret (the tip of Brittany) on 26 April 2023, with the objective of bringing the boat to Southern Brittany.

“At 15:30, we were at sea, more than 50 nautical miles from the coast, when our rudder broke. After sending a Pan-Pan call on the VHF radio, the three-masted sailboat Götheborg quickly responded to our call, offering to tow us to Paimpol (France),” says David Moeneclaey, skipper of the sailboat Corto.

Götheborg of Sweden rescue credit David Moeneclaey (8)

“We were perplexed by the size difference between our two boats, as we feared being towed by a boat that was too large and at too fast a speed that could damage our boat.”

Moeneclaey continues: “The arrival of the Götheborg on the scene was rapid and surprising, as we did not expect to see a merchant ship from the East India Company of the 18th-century. This moment was very strange, and we wondered if we were dreaming. Where were we? What time period was it?

“The Götheborg approached very close to us to throw the line and pass a large rope. The mooring went well, and our destinies were linked for very long hours, during which we shared the same radio frequency to communicate with each other.”

Götheborg of Sweden rescue credit David Moeneclaey (8)

The two sailors have praised the Götheborg’s crew, hailing their “professionalism and kindness.”

Moeneclaey adds: “The next day, as we approached the French coast, we radioed for another boat to help us enter the port, but no one responded positively.

“Around noon, the Götheborg approached us as closely as possible and stayed by our side until the arrival of a French rescue boat to ensure that everything would go well for us before letting us go.

“This adventure, very real, was an incredible experience for us. We were extremely lucky to cross paths with the Götheborg by chance and especially to meet such a caring crew.”

Götheborg of Sweden is a sailing replica of the Swedish East Indiaman Götheborg I, launched in 1738 and sunk in 1745. The vessel was launched in 2003 and built using traditional techniques.

While the exterior remains true to the original, the interior is highly modern. The ship has an electrical system and propellers powered by diesel engines.

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5 responses to “World’s largest ocean-going wooden sailing ship rescues sailboat”

  1. Mike says:

    How utterly superb, I can only imagine the surreal experience of being rescued by such a magnificent vessel

  2. Andrew Bulmer says:

    Wow what a ride.

  3. Ian Jenkinson says:

    I have asked my sailing club to buy the Gothenburg when we replace our Rib. Hopefully we would get more volunteers for Safety Cox than we currently do. However, I’m not sure if it would fit into Carsington Water www.carsingtonsailingclub.co.uk

  4. Wobby says:

    “but no one responded positively.”, Well that’s the French all over! Lol

  5. Sylvia Kraak says:

    Chapeau voor de Götheborg !
    Goed zeemanschap tot en met de haven!

This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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