‘Tommy this is not a joke’: Friends send mayday message as boat sinks in Pacific after being hit by whale

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A group of friends had to be rescued after their 44ft sailing boat sunk in the Pacific after being struck by a giant whale.

Rick Rodriguez and three friends spent 10 hours on a lifeboat and dinghy after the bizarre reported accident took place on 13 March.

Mr Rodriguez, who is from Florida, was 13 days into a three-week and 3,500-mile crossing of the South Pacific from the Galápagos Islands to French Polynesia when the whale collision took place.

He told The Washington Post that he had been eating vegetarian pizza onboard Raindancer when it ran into the huge whale.

“The second pizza had just come out of the oven, and I was dipping a slice into some ranch dressing,” Mr Rodriguez said in a satellite phone interview with the Post. “The back half of the boat lifted violently upward and to starboard.”

Crew member Alana Litz added that following the collision she saw “a massive whale off the port aft side with its side fin up in the air.”

And within seconds alarms began sounding that the boat was taking on water.

Mr Rodriguez says that he issued a mayday call on the boat’s VHF radio and sent out their position in an emergency distress signal. The crew then gathered enough food and water for around a week, as well as emergency equipment before launching the lifeboat and dinghy.

Using a phone and satellite hotspot, Mr Rodriquez messaged his friend and sailor Tommy Joyce, who was on the same route but around 180 miles behind them.

“Tommy this is no joke. We hit a whale and the ship went down,” Mr Rodriguez says he messaged his friend.

After turning the wifi hotspot off for two hours to conserve battery life, he received a message back, saying “We got you bud.”

The crew was eventually rescued hours later by another boat, the Rolling Stone, captained by sailor Geoff Stone, who had heard the mayday call and coordinated with Mr Joyce and Peruvian officials.

“I feel very lucky, and grateful, that we were rescued so quickly,” added Mr Rodriguez. “We were in the right place at the right time to go down.”

The crew of the Raindancer will complete their journey to French Polynesia onboard the Rolling Stone.

Source: independent.co.uk